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WILDLIFE SPECIES:  Dipodomys ordii


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Dipodomys ordii
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Sullivan, Janet. 1995. Dipodomys ordii. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : DIOR COMMON NAMES : Ord's kangaroo rat TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for Ord's kangaroo rat is Dipodomys ordii Woodhouse. It belongs to the family Heteromyidae, kangaroo rats and mice. Hall [13] listed 35 subspecies; however, Kennedy and Schnell [15] reported that many of these subspecies are probably not legitimate since they were based on the assumption that there is little sexual dimorphism in the species. It has now been established that there is much sexual dimorphism within the taxon [15]. ORDER : Rodentia CLASS : Mammal FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Dipodomys ordii
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Ord's kangaroo rat ranges from southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan to southern Hidalgo, Mexico, and from central Oregon and eastern California east to central Kansas and Oklahoma [11]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES29 Sagebrush FRES30 Desert shrub FRES31 Shinnery FRES32 Texas savanna FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon-juniper FRES38 Plains grasslands FRES39 Prairie FRES40 Desert grasslands STATES :


BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 5 Columbia Plateau 6 Upper Basin and Range 7 Lower Basin and Range 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 10 Wyoming Basin 11 Southern Rocky Mountains 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 14 Great Plains 16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K022 Great Basin pine forest K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland K024 Juniper steppe woodland K027 Mesquite bosque K031 Oak-juniper woodlands K032 Transition between K031 and K037 K033 Chaparral K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub K038 Great Basin sagebrush K039 Blackbrush K040 Saltbush-greasewood K041 Creosotebush K042 Creosotebush-bursage K043 Paloverde-cactus shrub K044 Creosotebush-tarbush K047 Fescue-oatgrass K050 Fescue-wheatgrass K051 Wheatgrass-bluegrass K055 Sagebrush steppe K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass K065 Grama-buffalograss K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalograss K069 Bluestem-grama prairie K085 Mesquite-buffalograss K070 Sandsage-bluestem prairie K088 Fayette prairie SAF COVER TYPES : 68 Mesquite 220 Rocky Mountain juniper 238 Western juniper 242 Mesquite SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : 104 Antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 105 Antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue 106 Bluegrass scabland 107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass 109 Ponderosa pine shrubland 110 Ponderosa pine-grassland 210 Bitterbrush 211 Creosotebush scrub 212 Blackbush 314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue 316 Big sagebrush-rough fescue 317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 318 Bitterbrush-Idaho fescue 319 Bitterbrush-rough fescue 320 Black sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 321 Black sagebrush-Idaho fescue 322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass 324 Threetip sagebrush-Idaho fescue 401 Basin big sagebrush 402 Mountain big sagebrush 403 Wyoming big sagebrush 404 Threetip sagebrush 405 Black sagebrush 406 Low sagebrush 407 Stiff sagebrush 408 Other sagebrush types 409 Tall forb 412 Juniper-pinyon woodland 414 Salt desert shrub 416 True mountain-mahogany 501 Saltbush-greasewood 503 Arizona chaparral 504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland 506 Creosotebush-bursage 507 Palo verde-cactus 508 Creosotebush-tarbush 509 Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association 605 Sandsage prairie 606 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass 607 Wheatgrass-needlegrass 608 Wheatgrass-grama-needlegrass 612 Sagebrush-grass 614 Crested wheatgrass 615 Wheatgrass-saltgrass-grama 701 Alkali sacaton-tobosagrass 702 Black grama-alkali sacaton 703 Black grama-sideoats grama 704 Blue grama-western wheatgrass 705 Blue grama-galleta 706 Blue grama-sideoats grama 707 Blue grama-sideoats grama-black grama 709 Bluestem-grama 712 Galleta-alkali sacaton 713 Grama-muhly-threeawn 714 Grama-bluestem 715 Grama-buffalograss 716 Grama-feathergrass 718 Mesquite-grama 720 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (dunes) 721 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (plains) 722 Sand sagebrush-mixed prairie 725 Vine mesquite-alkali sacaton 727 Mesquite-buffalograss PLANT COMMUNITIES : Ord's kangaroo rats occur in communities on sandy soils including semiarid grasslands, mixed-grass prairie, shrub- and scrublands, and pinyon (Pinus spp.)-juniper (Juniperus spp.) woodlands [11]. In Canada Ord's kangaroo rats are confined to open, sandy areas with a sparse cover of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.), rose (Rosa spp.), creeping juniper (J. horizontalis), and buffaloberry (Shepherdia spp.); the distribution of Ord's kangaroo rats appears to be closely associated with that of lanceleaved breadroot (Psoralea lanceolata) [2]. In Oregon Ord's kangaroo rats occur in big sagebrush (A. tridentata), western juniper (J. occidentalis), and greasewood (Sarcobatus spp.) communities. In Idaho they are most abundant in juniper woodlands with rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus spp.) and winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata) in the understory [11], but also occur on shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia) range [12]. In Utah Ord's kangaroo rats have an affinity for sagebrush, pinyon-juniper, and saltbush (Atriplex spp.) communities [11]. In Nevada Ord's kangaroo rats are associated with big sagebrush communities [37]. In Colorado Ord's kangaroo rats comprised 19 percent of small mammal captures in pinyon-juniper forest, scattered pinyon-juniper, and pinyon-juniper in canyon habitats [30]. In New Mexico Ord's kangaroo rats are found in yucca (Yucca spp.), oak (Quercus spp.), mesquite (Prosopis spp.), saltbush, and creosotebush (Larrea tridentata) communities [11,23]. They are particularly abundant in mesquite sand dunes [7]. In Texas Ord's kangaroo rats occur in honey mesquite (P. glandulosa), sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia), yucca, sand shinnery oak (Q. havardii), and broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae) communities [11]. In southwestern Kansas Ord's kangaroo rats are characteristic residents of sand sagebrush prairie [33].


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Dipodomys ordii
TIMING OF MAJOR LIFE HISTORY EVENTS : Ord's kangaroo rats are nocturnal. They spend the day in deep burrows [41]. Males are usually more abundant and active than females. Ord's kangaroo rat activity increases under cloud cover, particularly in winter [11]. Ord's kangaroo rats are active year-round in Texas, but further north they are seldom seen aboveground in cold weather [41]. Breeding Seasons: Ord's kangaroo rat breeding season varies with subspecies and area. There are usually one or two peak breeding seasons per year, and in many areas some breeding activity occurs year-round [11,36]. The size of ovaries is significantly positively correlated with temperature [11]. The average length of the breeding period is 6.8 months. In Texas males are fertile all year, with peak reproductive activity occurring between August and March. Higher reproductive rates are associated with increased precipitation and food supply and decreased population density. In a favorable growing season most females bred at least twice a year; but when population density increased females did not breed until November even though growing conditions and food supplies were favorable [25]. In Arizona the lowest proportion of males in breeding condition (about 60 percent of the male population) occurred in January and September-October. The lowest number of females in breeding condition occurred in November, but there were at least a few females breeding at that time [5]. In Oklahoma there are two peaks in breeding activity: August-September and December through March [14]. In many areas the onset of breeding activity follows a period of rainfall the previous month [11]. Gestation and Litter Size: Gestation lasts 28 to 32 days. There are usually one to six embryos. In captivity the maximum litter size was six young [11]. Productivity and Longevity: The maximum number of litters produced per year by a captive female was five, the maximum number of litters per lifetime was nine, and the maximum number of young per female's lifetime was 38. The longest-lived Ord's kangaroo rat in captivity was 7 years 5 months [11]. Brown and Zeng [6] calculated an annual death rate of 0.35 for all age classes. PREFERRED HABITAT : Ord's kangaroo rats occur mainly in semiarid, open habitats. In Nevada they were trapped in desert scrub and gravelly soil, flat pebble desert, and washes [8]. In Utah Ord's kangaroo rats have an affinity for open shrublands and grasslands on sandy soils [11]. In southeastern Idaho big sagebrush/crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) range, most Ord's kangaroo rat captures occurred on disturbed sites (areas of sparse cover: Russian-thistle (Salsola kali), cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), and green rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus), followed by disturbed areas seeded to crested wheatgrass, then undisturbed big sagebrush [17]. In western South Dakota Ord's kangaroo rats are associated with black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) towns [34]. In Wyoming Ord's kangaroo rats are abundant in sand dune communities where vegetation is greater than 10 inches (25 cm) tall and bare soil exceeds 40 percent [11]. In Colorado Ord's kangaroo rats were primarily captured in open areas with firm soil. Firm or lightly compacted soils are needed for burrow construction; highly compacted soils are too hard to dig into [30]. In areas of desert pavement or tough clay soils in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas, Ord's kangaroo rats are confined to pockets of windblown sand and alluvial soils along arroyos [31]. There is strong intraspecific competition and little interspecific competition among Dipodomys species [32]. In New Mexico, where Ord's kangaroo rats are sympatric with Merriam's kangaroo rats (Dipodomys merriamii), Ord's kangaroo rats were mostly captured in grassy microhabitats, and Merriam's kangaroo rats were captured more often around creosotebush [32]. Herbicide defoliation of shrubs (for rangeland improvement) reduced live canopy cover of creosotebush and resulted in an increase in bush muhly (Muhlenbergia porteri). After treatment Ord's kangaroo rat replaced Merriam's kangaroo rat as the dominant rodent. It was suggested that this was due to the change in habitat structure to open grass [42]. Removal experiments to establish single species populations of kangaroo rats were unsuccessful since many kangaroo rats are transient and quickly occupy vacated habitats [32]. Only one adult occupies a given burrow system, except for a brief period during breeding activity. There is little territoriality above ground except near the burrow entrance, which is defended [8]. Home Range: In New Mexico Ord's kangaroo rat annual home ranges in mesquite averaged 3.35 acres (1.36 ha) [11]. In Nevada sagebrush/grassland Ord's kangaroo rat home ranges were estimated to be 1.53 acres (0.62 ha) by the circular method and 1.06 acres (0.43 ha) by the principal component method. Home range movements increased through spring and again in late fall and early winter. There was no significant difference between male and female Ord's kangaroo rat home ranges; however, female home ranges decreased during reproductive periods [26]. Recapture data for Ord's kangaroo rats in Arizona indicate that they do not travel far from the home range; most Ord's kangaroo rats were recaptured within 165 feet (50 m) of the original capture site. Data on the lifetime movements of individuals indicated that most were recaptured within 330 feet (100 m) of the original capture site [6]. Population Density: In sagebrush in the Great Basin, Ord's kangaroo rats reach an average density of 113 Ord's kangaroo rats per 10 hectares [38]. In intermountain salt-desert shrublands Ord's kangaroo rat population density average 28 individuals per 10 hectares in shadscale communities and 135 individuals per 10 hectares in black greasewood (Sarcobatus vermiculatus) communities [40]. COVER REQUIREMENTS : Even in shrub-dominated communities, heteromyids including Ord's kangaroo rat tend to concentrate their activity in open areas between shrubs [44]. Ord's kangaroo rats are poor diggers because of their weak forelegs and slender claws. They dig shallow burrows in loose sand in the sides of natural sand dunes, riverbanks, or road cuts. There is one central burrow surrounded by trails to feeding areas [2]. Ord's kangaroo rat burrows have 3-inch (7.6 cm) diameter openings. Small mounds are usually formed outside the entrance to the burrow [41]. The burrow opening is usually plugged with soil during the day to maintain temperature and humidity within tolerable levels [11,19]. They scoop out small, shallow depressions to be used as dusting spots [41]. FOOD HABITS : Ord's kangaroo rats are primarily granivorous and herbivorous. They consume a variety of foods but most commonly the seeds of grasses and forbs, green vegetation, and dry vegetation. They occasionally consume animal material, mostly arthropods. In Colorado seeds comprised 74 percent of Ord's kangaroo rat diets, forbs 13 percent, grasses and sedges 5 percent, arthropods 4 percent, and fungi and mosses 2 percent [11]. In southeastern Idaho big sagebrush/crested wheatgrass range, Ord's kangaroo rats consumed (in order of proportion) pollen, arthropods, plant parts (Asteraceae) and crested wheatgrass seeds [17]. A study of Ord's kangaroo rat foods in Texas found that the primary foods consumed included seeds of sand paspalum (Paspalum stramineum), honey mesquite, sand bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus), common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), and rose-ring gaillardia (Gaillardia pulchella) [1]. In Texas seeds of creosotebush, gramas (Bouteloua spp.) and dropseeds (Sporobolus spp.) form the major portion of Ord's kangaroo rat diets [31]. Seeds of mesquite, Russian-thistle, sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), and sandbur (Cenchrus spp.) are also major dietary items [41]. Harvested seeds are transported in cheek pouches to burrows and consumed or cached there. Ord's kangaroo rats also cache seed in scattered shallow holes; this activity sometimes results in seedling emergence. Ord's kangaroo rats are easily able to retrieve shallowly buried seeds. A single Ord's kangaroo rat may make tens to hundreds of caches, each with tens to hundreds of seeds [21]. Kangaroo rats are physiologically adapted to arid environments. Most water is obtained from seeds and succulent plants. They drink water when it is available but apparently do not require free water [2,22]. PREDATORS : In the Great Basin sagebrush, intermountain sagebrush steppe, and intermountain salt desert shrublands potential predators of Ord's kangaroo rats include coyotes (Canis latrans), kit fox (Vulpes velox), bobcats (Lynx rufus), badgers (Taxidea taxus), long-eared owls (Asio otus), short-eared owls (Asio flammeus), great horned owls (Bubo virginianus), burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia), hawks (Buteonidae and Falconidae spp.), rattlesnakes (Crotalus spp.), and gopher snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus) [38,39,40]. In Idaho the remains of Ord's kangaroo rats were found in up to 25 percent of prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus) nests. The 3-year average frequency of Ord's kangaroo rat remains in prairie falcon nests was 4 percent [27]. MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : There is some evidence that Ord's kangaroo rats and other Dipodomys species are a key component in maintaining the grass component of salt desert plant assemblages in the Great Basin [21]. Seed predation and soil disturbance are the major influences of Dipodomys species. They exhibit a preference for large seeds and their soil disturbance promotes annuals over perennials. In southeastern Arizona desert scrub, removal of the three Dipodomys species including Ord's kangaroo rat resulted in a shift from shrubland to grassland. There was an increase in cover of Lehmann lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana) and threeawn (Aristida adscensions) and a decrease in cover of needle grama (Bouteloua aristoides) and six-weeks grama (B. barbata) [5].


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Dipodomys ordii
DIRECT FIRE EFFECTS ON ANIMALS : Ord's kangaroo rats inhabit open, arid, and semiarid habitats in which wildfires are infrequent due to lack of vegetation to carry fire. There are no reports of direct Ord's kangaroo rat mortality from fire. Burrowing animals such as Ord's kangaroo rat are likely to survive fire by remaining in their burrows [3]. In California chaparral Heermann's kangaroo rats (Dipodomys heermannii) survived prescribed fire by remaining in their burrows. The hottest measured temperature in Heermann's kangaroo rat burrows was 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40.1 deg C), 9.4 inches (24 cm) below the surface, an increase of 23 degrees Fahrenheit (13 deg C). Most other depths tested registered less than an 18-degree Fahrenheit (10 deg C) rise in temperature [28]. HABITAT RELATED FIRE EFFECTS : Fire in desert and semidesert communities reduces shrub cover and creates more open areas that are favored by Ord's kangaroo rats. In Nevada sagebrush-grassland, an area burned by wildfire was dominated by Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides). Ord's kangaroo rats were more abundant in the Indian ricegrass-dominated burned areas than in adjacent unburned sagebrush. Kangaroo rats (mostly Merriam's and Ord's kangaroo rats) apparently played a role in encouraging the postfire dominance of Indian ricegrass through the caching and subsequent germination of Indian ricegrass seed. They also consume large seeds such as those of Artemisia species more often than small seeds such as those of annual forbs, thus reducing shrub seed available for colonization of burned areas [20,21]. In singleleaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla)-Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) with a sparse understory of big sagebrush and desert bitterbrush (Purshia glandulosa), prescribed fires were conducted in the winter and fall. Fire converted pinyon-juniper communities to single-layered, forb-dominated communities. Ord's kangaroo rats were caught on both burned an unburned areas, but were not common on either treatment. The first season after the fire a few more Ord's kangaroo rats were caught on the unburned areas than on the burned areas. However, Ord's kangaroo rats were caught only on burned areas the second postfire season. Ord's kangaroo rats appeared to be attracted by seeds of annual forbs on burned areas; Ord's kangaroo rat numbers increased with increased abundance of annual forbs [24]. In western Nevada cheatgrass invasion of sparse desert shrub communities has increased the incidence of wildfire. Postfire succession is not well known due to the recent change in fire frequency. An area burned in 1985 supported four species of Dipodomys including Ord's kangaroo rat through 1990. Since some desert species do not survive fire well, seeding of native species in the immediate postfire period is recommended to regenerate desert shrubs and prevent cheatgrass dominance. Indian ricegrass is a good choice for seeding but it is expensive [43]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Dipodomys ordii
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[25550] 37. Welch, Bruce L.; McArthur, E. Durant. 1985. Big sagebrush--its taxonomy, origin, distribution and utility. In: Fisser, Herbert G., ed. Wyoming shrublands: Proceedings, 14th Wyoming shrub ecology workshop; 1985 May 29-30; Rock Springs, WY. Laramie, WY: University of Wyoming, Department of Range Management, Wyoming Shrub Ecology Workshop: 3-19. [13903] 38. West, N. E. 1983. Great Basin-Colorado plateau sagebrush semi-desert. In: Temperate deserts and semi-deserts. Amsterdam; Oxford; New York: Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company: 331-349. (Goodall, David W., ed. in chief; Ecosystems of the world; vol. 5). [2505] 39. West, N. E. 1983. Western Intermountain sagebrush steppe. In: Temperate deserts and semi-deserts. Amsterdam; Oxford; New York: Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company. 352-374. (Goodall, David W., ed. in chief; Ecosystems of the world; vol. 5). [2506] 40. West, Neil E. 1983. Intermountain salt-desert shrubland. In: West, Neil E., ed. 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