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Interactions among American badgers, black-footed ferrets, and prairie dogs in the grasslands of western North America

By: , and 
Edited by: Gilbert Proulx and Emmanuel Do Linh San

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Abstract

American badgers (Taxidea taxus) and black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) sometimes occur sympatrically within colonies of prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.) in the grasslands of western North America. From the perspective of a simplified food web, badgers are consumers of ferrets and, to a greater extent, prairie dogs; ferrets are specialized consumers of prairie dogs; and prairie dogs are consumers of vegetation. We review information on the predatory behaviours of badgers, which collectively demonstrate that badgers exhibit complex hunting strategies to improve their probability of capturing prairie dogs and, perhaps, ferrets. We also review studies of interactions between badgers and ferrets, which suggest that there is selective pressure on badgers to compete with ferrets, and pressure on ferrets to compete with and avoid badgers. We then speculate as to how prairie dogs might shape interactions between badgers and ferrets, and how badgers could spread the plague bacterium (Yersinia pestis) among prairie dog colonies. Lastly, we provide recommendations for research on this tractable system of semi-fossorial predators and prey.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Interactions among American badgers, black-footed ferrets, and prairie dogs in the grasslands of western North America
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Alpha Wildlife Publication
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 21 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Badgers: Systematics, biology, conservation and research techniques
First page 198
Last page 218