Date of Graduation

Spring 2021


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Sean Maher


Prairies once extended across much of Missouri, but now are dwindling and often surrounded by agriculture or other developed land. This has resulted in a mosaic-like landscape made up of small patches that are often isolated and distant from other patches. The theory of Island Biogeography posits that species richness of habitat patches exists as a dynamic equilibrium between colonization and extinction rates and that larger islands should contain more species than smaller islands. The purpose of this study is to examine how occupancy of a small mammal prairie specialist, the prairie vole, Microtus ochrogaster, and other small mammal species, such as the deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus, and the hispid cotton rat, Sigmodon hispidus, are affected by patch size, fragmentation, and isolation of prairie patches from other similar habitats. This study will be conducted by trapping small mammals using transects surveys with Sherman live traps (a standard in the field) and individuals will be marked with a unique ear tag. Small prairie fragments throughout Missouri were used as a model system, to analyze community characteristics of these patches, I 1) created single season multi-species occupancy models to determine effects of habitat characteristics such as area, isolation, and perimeter, on small mammal occupancy, and 2) compared observed species richness to area, perimeter, and isolation. Six species of small mammals were found over the course of this study. Prairie area, perimeter, or isolation were not found to have an impact on occupancy or species richness. An unknown mechanism seems to be driving small mammal community composition and further data collection is needed to find the mechanism causing these variations.


small mammals, prairie, occupancy, Island Biogeography Theory, fragmentation, edge effect, metacommunities

Subject Categories

Natural Resources and Conservation


© Morgan Elizabeth Rodery

Open Access