The least shrew on Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas

TitleThe least shrew on Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsKaufman, GA, Kaufman, DW
JournalTransactions of the Kansas Academy of Science
Pagination47 -58
Accession NumberKNZ001390
Keywordsabundance, body size, Cryptotis parva, fire, Grazing, planted brome fields, reproduction, tallgrass prairie, trap response, woodland habitat

We report specific locations and attributes of least shrews (Cryptotis parva) captured over a 29-year period on the Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas. We used large, nonfolding Sherman live traps to survey small mammals in native tallgrass prairie habitats (by traplines and grids), woodland habitats (by traplines and grids) and planted brome fields (traplines only). Eighty-seven least shrews were captured over the 29 years of surveys (ca. 350,000 trap nights). Almost all captures (98%) occurred in prairie habitat; 80% of all captures occurred on a prairie grid during a 5-year period. Least shrews on prairie traplines were captured in a variety of topographic positions (upland, hillside slope and lowland) and in burned and unburned prairie, but not in prairie grazed by bison. We captured individuals that ranged in body size from 2.5–8.0 g. The mean body mass of all captured least shrews was 4.7 g (excluding pregnant females) and, when only adults were included (excluding pregnant females), it was 5.1g. We noted 13 pregnancies among 12 females; the earliest pregnancy was recorded in mid-April and latest in mid-October. Most pregnancies (ca. 70%) were recorded in two months, July and September. Lactating females that were not pregnant were larger in size (5.5 g) than non-reproductive females (4.4 g). Response of least shrews to live traps was not neophobic; and, in fact, about 30% of the shrews were captured on day 1 of a 4-day trapping period on prairie sites. Our data add information about attributes of least shrews living in natural habitats, such as the tallgrass prairie, and support two previous studies, which suggested that least shrews are rare on Konza Prairie.