Birney, E.C. 1999. Status of the plains pocket mouse (Perognathus flavescens) at the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant, 1999. Final report submitted to the Nongame Wildlife Program, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 10+ pp.
The plains pocket mouse (Perognathus flavescens) is the only member of the rodent family Heteromyidae found in Minnesota. Although widely distributed in North America from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota and Minnesota, the behavior and ecology of this mouse is not well known. One of a few individuals are occasionally detected by mammalogists and ecologists, typically in open or disturbed sandy soils supporting no more than a partial cover of grass or scattered forbs and grass. In Minnesota, where this pocket mouse reaches its northeasternmost limits of distribution, the species is officially considered to be on the Species of Special Concern list.
A few individual Perognathus were trapped at the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP) as part of a survey of small mammals conducted by Jannett (1996). Subsequently, Birney and Monjeau (1997) trapped extensively at the TCAAP for this species in June of 1997 and discovered a substantial and apparently healthy population (45 individuals known to be alive at the time) living in the Gravel Pit just west of Hamline Ave. and south of Anoka County Road I. During the 2 years since Birney and Monjeau conducted their study, the future use and ownership of the TCAAP has been under considerable debate and of interest to conservationists, politicians, developers, and various units of both state and federal military organizations. Birney and Monjeau recommended that this population should be carefully protected from human disturbance and monitored regularly in an effort to ensure the long-term survival of the only substantial population of this species presently known for the state.
It was the purpose of this study to conduct a follow-up study to that done by Birney and Monjeau to determine: 1) the present status of the TCAAP population of Perognathus flavescens; and 2) what proportion of the population marked in 1997 can be determined to remain alive compared to the proportion of the present population that represents new recruits from the population's breeding efforts in 1997 and 1998. Vegetation changes in the area of primary habitat and changes in the total assemblage of small mammals living there also were noted in an attempt to predict the long-term suitability of the site for Perognathus, given the potential for human disturbance in an urban area and the natural successional trends of this part of Minnesota.