Author Archive

Summer Rodent Update

September 21, 2009

We’ve had an active summer, but no thanks to the rodents. The numbers have remained low (along with the precipitation), dropping from 172 in May and June, 135 in July, to 94 in August. We found plenty of other things to entertain ourselves with, though.

Thanks to having an arachnologist with us in July, we saw many species of spiders, as well as many other interesting arthropod moments.



Despite the low numbers, we’re still catching some rarer species and unintended species:

Female spectab on plot 22Baiomys taylori

great plains skinkjuvenile desert cottontail

We’ve encountered many other species, as well. Horned lizards, in particular, seem to be increasingly common on the site.

gopher snakeTexas horned lizard

turtlebird nest

July was hot and dry.

moon over Portal

In August we finally got some weather, complete with dust storms, rain, wind, and lightning.


*Thanks to Stephanie Cobbold for the spider pictures and IDs!

*Thanks to Alan Ernest for the turtle picture.

April ’09 rodent update

April 29, 2009

We had beautiful weather this month and enjoyed typical desert ambiance.

Field truck at sunrise

Field truck at sunrise (Photo by Mary Pendergast)


Numbers jumped from 118 rodents in March to 161 in April. Much of this was due to the return of C. penicillatus and many juvenile and sub-adult C. baileyi, particulary on the kangaroo-rat exclosures. Plot 6 alone experienced an increase from 2 individuals in March to 12 this month. We’ll be ready for anything this summer!

February Rodent Update

February 27, 2009

It would appear as if the rodent numbers are on their way back up. We caught 95 individuals this month. Diversity is up as well, including Sigmodon, Baiomys, and Reithrodontomys.  We even caught an antelope ground  squirrel. We tagged many very tiny kangaroo rats this month, and I’m sure more are on the way.

End of 2008 Rodent Update

November 26, 2008

The numbers are low and getting lower. We caught 118 rodents in October and for November the count is 106.  The penicillatus have gone down for the winter.  The normally rare species we were seeing in these past couple grassy summers are finally deciding they don’t like Portal (though we did catch one straggling cotton rat). So the catch this month looked like a k-rat:Bailey’s standoff.

We’ve tagged 8 Banner-taileds so far, though we only regularly recapture 2 or 3. Last month we tagged two new females, and this month we tagged another male.

Female spectab on plot 8 - tagged Oct `08

Female spectab on plot 8 - tagged Oct `08

Male spectab on plot 8 - tagged Nov '08

Male spectab on plot 8 - tagged Nov '08

photo by Sarah Mohlman

Several species of spider showed up last month as well. Most were a small species that makes a cone-shaped web in the shrubs, but I had to maneuver around this one to close the gates on 15 – two months in a row (thanks to Stephanie Cobbold for the ID)!

daunting-looking spider - Oct (and Nov) '08

Argiope trifasciata - Oct (and Nov)

Tarantula - 'Oct '08

Tarantula -Oct '08

(photos by Rachel Pyles)