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The length of gestation is the number of days between fertilization and parturition, and the length of lactation is the number of days between parturition and weaning. Determination of these lengths is difficult for ground-dwelling squirrels such as prairie dogs, marmots, and ground squirrels that usually copulate, give birth, and nurse offspring underground. For Gunnison's prairie dogs (Cynomys gunnisoni), the mean +1 SD length of gestation is 29.3 ? 0.53 days (n = 124). The approximate length of lactation, estimated from the mean +1 SD duration between parturition and the first emergence of juveniles from the natal burrow, is 38.6 ? 2.08 days (n = 112). Published in Journal of Mammalogy, volume 78, issue 1, on...
Long-term research with marked individuals shows that black-tailed, Gunnison's, and Utah prairie dogs (Sciuridae: Cynomys ludovicianus, C. gunnisoni, and C. parvidens) all reproduce slowly, despite claims of ranchers and early naturalists. Five factors are responsible for the slow reproduction. First, survivorship in the 1st year is <60% for all 3 species, and it remains low in later years. Second, even under optimal conditions, females of all 3 species produce only 1 litter/year. Third, the percentage of males that copulate as yearlings is only 6%, 24%, and 49% for black-tailed, Gunnison's, and Utah prairie dogs, respectively. The percentage of females that copulate as yearlings is only 35% for black-tailed prairie...