Prairie Dogs The center of the complex prairie ecosystem By Mike Link
No Species is more tied to the great plains ecology than the prairie dog.
 
 
 
Prairie Dog tracking
Note that the canines are lacking.  The molars are prevalent because this is an animal that eats plants and crushes its fo...
White Tailed Prairie Dog And Black Tailed Prairie Dog
 
 
 
Postures are clues to behaviors
Anti predator call
Another anti-predator call posture
Signaling – a social communication This is called the jump yip – it is the all clear signal
Social behavior includes grooming
Kissing  which is actually touching teeth.
Nursing
Prairie dogs have a gestation period of one month.  Average litter – four ,  blind and hairless at birth. Young remain und...
The relation of the Prairie Dog to both grasses and predators is complex
Coyotes shared the original prairie habitat with wolves
Using mound as observation post
Burrow site <ul><li>Deep soil layers </li></ul><ul><li>Few rocks </li></ul><ul><li>No flooding </li></ul><ul><li>Productiv...
 
 
 
 
The coyote is a prairie dog predator
Golden Eagles are the most efficient of the aerial predators. Hawks and eagles are most efficient in winter.
Badgers are the most prolific and will dig up and kill an entire family
Prairie Rattlesnakes  I nhabit the burrow, but most often prey on smaller rodents that use the burrows.  The young prairie...
Burrowing Owl live in the burrows but seldom predate the dogs
The owls actually benefit from both the burrows and the dogs vigilance in watching for other predators
Bisons are beneficiaries of the Prairie Dog aeration of the soil, the young, nutritious shoots, and the available mounds f...
Plants and Prairie Dogs <ul><li>The bulk of the prairie dog diet is made up of five grasses </li></ul><ul><li>Blue grama <...
Western Wheatgrass
Blue Grama
Buffalo Grass
Sixweeks fescue
Tumblegrass –  also tumble lovegrass
Diet <ul><li>The prairie dog diet includes many more plants – such as orange globe mallow. </li></ul><ul><li>The additiona...
Grazing by bison and pronghorn also helps to maintain the site lines for the prairie dogs Other mammals are aided by the f...
 
 
Questions??????? <ul><li>How does activity level change during day? </li></ul><ul><li>Which areas of the dog town have the...
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Prairie dogs

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A presentation used when we guided in the badlands and for our mammal research course.

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Prairie dogs

  1. 1. Prairie Dogs The center of the complex prairie ecosystem By Mike Link
  2. 2. No Species is more tied to the great plains ecology than the prairie dog.
  3. 6. Prairie Dog tracking
  4. 7. Note that the canines are lacking. The molars are prevalent because this is an animal that eats plants and crushes its food rather than tearing. Like all rodents, the incisors will keep growing if the animal does not wear them down by chewing. This is the same factor that we see so prominently in the beaver.
  5. 8. White Tailed Prairie Dog And Black Tailed Prairie Dog
  6. 12. Postures are clues to behaviors
  7. 13. Anti predator call
  8. 14. Another anti-predator call posture
  9. 15. Signaling – a social communication This is called the jump yip – it is the all clear signal
  10. 16. Social behavior includes grooming
  11. 17. Kissing which is actually touching teeth.
  12. 18. Nursing
  13. 19. Prairie dogs have a gestation period of one month. Average litter – four , blind and hairless at birth. Young remain underground for six weeks. They are weaned at 8 weeks. Greatest cause of infant mortality is infanticide by female member of coterie.
  14. 20. The relation of the Prairie Dog to both grasses and predators is complex
  15. 21. Coyotes shared the original prairie habitat with wolves
  16. 22. Using mound as observation post
  17. 23. Burrow site <ul><li>Deep soil layers </li></ul><ul><li>Few rocks </li></ul><ul><li>No flooding </li></ul><ul><li>Productive vegetation regime </li></ul><ul><li>Flat land, minimum slope </li></ul><ul><li>30 – 50 entrances per acre </li></ul><ul><li>Entrance use can extend to 100 years. </li></ul><ul><li>2 – 5 entrances </li></ul><ul><li>Depth of 3 -10 feet </li></ul><ul><li>Total length 50 feet </li></ul><ul><li>Diameter 4 – 5 inches </li></ul><ul><li>Entrance mound 3 – 6 feet. </li></ul><ul><li>In dry conditions, mound may blow away and not build up. </li></ul>
  18. 28. The coyote is a prairie dog predator
  19. 29. Golden Eagles are the most efficient of the aerial predators. Hawks and eagles are most efficient in winter.
  20. 30. Badgers are the most prolific and will dig up and kill an entire family
  21. 31. Prairie Rattlesnakes I nhabit the burrow, but most often prey on smaller rodents that use the burrows. The young prairie dogs are usually born while the rattler is hibernating.
  22. 32. Burrowing Owl live in the burrows but seldom predate the dogs
  23. 33. The owls actually benefit from both the burrows and the dogs vigilance in watching for other predators
  24. 34. Bisons are beneficiaries of the Prairie Dog aeration of the soil, the young, nutritious shoots, and the available mounds for dusting.
  25. 35. Plants and Prairie Dogs <ul><li>The bulk of the prairie dog diet is made up of five grasses </li></ul><ul><li>Blue grama </li></ul><ul><li>Buffalo grass </li></ul><ul><li>Sixweeks fescue </li></ul><ul><li>Tumblegrass </li></ul><ul><li>Western Wheatgrass </li></ul><ul><li>In one year, one cow eats the equivalent of 256 adult prairie dogs!! </li></ul>
  26. 36. Western Wheatgrass
  27. 37. Blue Grama
  28. 38. Buffalo Grass
  29. 39. Sixweeks fescue
  30. 40. Tumblegrass – also tumble lovegrass
  31. 41. Diet <ul><li>The prairie dog diet includes many more plants – such as orange globe mallow. </li></ul><ul><li>The additional plants vary depending upon the season. </li></ul><ul><li>They will eat grasshoppers and have been cannibalistic at times. </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes they chew taller, more fibrous grasses to clear observation areas. </li></ul>
  32. 42. Grazing by bison and pronghorn also helps to maintain the site lines for the prairie dogs Other mammals are aided by the fact that the constant mowing provides the more nutrient rich shoot and reduction of tall grasses encourages forbs
  33. 45. Questions??????? <ul><li>How does activity level change during day? </li></ul><ul><li>Which areas of the dog town have the most young? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there are difference in response to humans from those adjacent the road to the distant mounds? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the density of burrows? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there always a watch dog? Or do they all forage at the same time? </li></ul>
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