Mammalian and herptofauna inventory of the Z Bar Ranch with notes on natural history
Dr. Keith Geluso, University of Nebraska Kearney
Dr. Carter Kruse, Turner Institute of Ecoagriculture
The Gypsum (aka Red) Hills of south-central Kansas represent a rugged landscape of mesas and bluffs, with eroded canyons and red soils. The tall and mixed grass prairies intersect here and the landscape contains small rivers and streams that together with the topography provide a diversity of habitats, including grasslands, wetlands, forested patches, and areas of sandy alluvial soils. Additionally, due to a layer of gypsum in sedimentary substrata, the area also contains several caves. Subsequently, the Gypsum Hills region has a diverse vertebrate fauna, where many species reach distributional limits and include a number of taxa considered Species of Conservation Need in Kansas. This inventory of mammals and herpetofauna on the Z Bar Ranch by the Institute will provide a benchmark for understanding which species reside on the ranch, seasonality in which they occur and reproduce, and habitats used by them, building a foundation for future research and conservation work. Some early, undergraduate student lead outcomes from this work can be reviewed here and here.