The prairie dog as a keystone species
The prairie dog has a pronounced impact on its grassland ecosystem (King 1955; Uresk and Bjugstad 1983; Miller et al. 1994; Society for Conservation Biology 1994; Wuerthner 1997; Johnsgard 2005). They maintain short vegetation by their grazing and by selective removal of tall plants and shrubs; provide shelter, foraging grounds, and nesting habitat for a diverse array of animals; serve as prey for many predators; and alter soil chemistry.
Do these impacts mean that the prairie dog is a keystone species? To investigate, we first scrutinize the definition for a keystone species. We then document both vertebrates and invertebrates that associate with prairie dogs and their colony-sites. We examine ecosystem processes at colony-sites, and then assess whether the prairie dog is a legitimate keystone species. Finally, we explore the implications of keystone status for the conservation of prairie dogs.
Additional publication details
|Publication type||Book chapter|
|Publication Subtype||Book Chapter|
|Title||The prairie dog as a keystone species|
|Publisher location||Washington, DC|
|Contributing office(s)||Fort Collins Science Center|
|Larger Work Type||Book|
|Larger Work Subtype||Monograph|
|Larger Work Title||Conservation of the black-tailed prairie dog: Saving North America's western grasslands|