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    Author(s): Felicia D. Archuleta; Paulette L. Ford
    Date: 2013
    Source: In: Michalk, David L., chief ed. Proceedings of the 22nd International Grassland Congress: Revitalising Grasslands to Sustain Our Communities; 15-19 September, 2013; Sydney, Australia. International Grassland Congress 2013. p. 1613-1615.
    Publication Series: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (2.46 MB)

    Description

    Black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) are considered a keystone species in grassland ecosystems. Through their burrowing activities, they conspicuously alter grassland landscapes and provide foraging, shelter and nesting habitat for a diverse array of grassland species, in addition to serving as prey for the endangered black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes). Due to a combination of factors, the lands currently occupied by prairie dog colonies are thought to represent less than 10% of their historical range. Black-tailed prairie dogs have difficulty colonizing areas with tall and/or dense plant cover. We examine how manipulations of grassland vegetative structure through fire may be used as a potential management tool for prairie dog colony expansion in shortgrass steppe. The occurrence of fire in grassland ecosystems plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity of grasslands by influencing the rate of nutrient turnover, regulating plant communities, reducing woody species, suppressing the growth of fire-intolerant plants and discouraging invasion of non-native species. Knowledge of how the use of prescribed fire frequency and seasonality affect prairie dog colonization is vital for developing and implementing science-based land management strategies in shortgrass steppe.

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    Citation

    Archuleta, Felicia D.; Ford, Paulette L. 2013. Prescribed fire: A proposed management tool to facilitate black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colony expansion. In: Michalk, David L., chief ed. Proceedings of the 22nd International Grassland Congress: Revitalising Grasslands to Sustain Our Communities; 15-19 September, 2013; Sydney, Australia. International Grassland Congress 2013. p. 1613-1615.

    Keywords

    keystone species, black-footed ferret, Mustela nigripes, shortgrass steppe, Great Plains, fire

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