Track plates detect the endangered New Mexico jumping mouse

Rachel L. Harrow, Valerie J. Horncastle, Carol L. Chambers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The New Mexico jumping mouse (Zapus luteus luteus, formerly Z. hudsonius luteus), an endangered subspecies found in the southwestern United States, inhabits riparian areas with tall, dense herbaceous vegetation as habitat. To detect presence of this species for use in defining life history and habitat use, we developed and tested 4 noninvasive track-plate methods, and selected the best for field use. New Mexico jumping mice have unique feet and toes that are readily distinguishable from other small mammals within their geographic range. We created reference photos of rodent tracks that confirmed the unique footprints of the jumping mouse and tested this method against detection with live traps in the Apache–Sitgreaves, Arizona, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, National Forests, 2016 and 2017. When comparing the 2 detection methods, in only 1 of 16 comparisons did results differ, where we captured jumping mice in live traps, but did not detect them with track plates. Based on our success with this approach, we developed a 14-minute instructional video ( on assembly, deployment, and interpretation of track plates. Although trapping provided specific information about individuals, the noninvasive nature of our track-plate design minimized risk of injury or mortality to animals and lowered study costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-700
Number of pages8
JournalWildlife Society Bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Arizona
  • New Mexico
  • Zapus hudsonius luteus
  • Zapus luteus luteus
  • detection
  • endangered species
  • noninvasive methods
  • survey methodology
  • track plate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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