Like tyrannosaurs, prairie dogs are also sociable. Perhaps a little too much so. “Prairie dogs are increasingly rare and subject to bubonic plague,” says Jennifer Verdolin, a researcher with the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in North Carolina. Understanding the social networks they form, however, might help stem the spread of the Black Death among the affable rodents. Amanda Traud, a Ph.D. candidate in biomathematics at North Carolina State University, analyzed data Verdolin collected from prairie dog colonies in Arizona (Ecol. Complex. 2014, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecocom.2014.06.003). The researchers focused on a behavior called “greet kissing,” in which prairie dogs lock teeth when they see each other.
by Alexander H. Tullo |
August 11, 2014