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(Web Page; Fri Jul 25 14:38:00 CDT 2014)
Description: Plague causes major ecological disruptions in grassland ecosystems and has contributed to population declines and near extinction of several species, including Utah prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets. Researchers will use genetic analyses to understand the relationships between prairie dogs, small rodent species, fleas and the bacteria that causes plague. Discovering which species of rodents and fleas maintain the bacteria in nature will elucidate better strategies for plague control in these populations. Understanding the ecology of plague in the United States will allow scientists and wildlife managers to be better informed about how plague affects wild animal populations. This study will benefit many species, including prairie dogs and the endangered black-footed ferret, whose recovery programs are constrained by the occurrence of plague in the western United States.