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Wildlife associates of nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) burrows in Arkansas.

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The Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) is a widespread burrowing species with an expanding geographic range across the southeastern and midwestern United States. Armadillos dig numerous, large burrows within their home ranges and these burrows are likely used by a diverse suite of wildlife species as has been reported for other burrowing ecosystem engineers such as Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizi), and Black-tailed Prairie Dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus). We used motion-triggered game cameras at 35 armadillo burrows in 4 ecoregions of Arkansas and documented 19 species of mammals, 4 species of reptile, 1 species of amphibian, and 40 species of bird interacting with burrows. Bobcat (Lynx rufus), Coyote (Canis latrans), Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus), Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor), Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana), and unidentified rodents (mice and rats) were documented using burrows in all four ecoregions. We documented wildlife hunting, seeking shelter, rearing young in, and taking over and modifying armadillo burrows. The rate of use was highest in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, a landscape dominated by agriculture, where natural refugia may be limited and rodents are abundant. Armadillo burrows are clearly visited and used by numerous wildlife species to fulfill various life stage requirements, and this list will likely expand if more attention is devoted to understanding the role of armadillos burrows. Armadillos are important ecosystem engineers, and their ecological role warrants more investigation and attention as opposed to only being viewed and managed as agricultural and garden pests.

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