prairie dogs

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


  • 1. Prairie Dogs The center of the complex prairie ecosystem By Mike Link

2. No Species is more tied to the great plains ecology than the prairie dog. 3. 4. 5. 6. Prairie Dog tracking 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. 8. White Tailed Prairie Dog And Black Tailed Prairie Dog 9. 10. 11. 12. Postures are clues to behaviors 13. Anti predator call 14. Another anti-predator call posture 15. Signaling a social communication This is called the jump yip it is the all clear signal 16. Social behavior includes grooming 17. Kissingwhich is actually touching teeth. 18. Nursing 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. 20. The relation of the Prairie Dog to both grasses and predators is complex 21. Coyotes shared the original prairie habitat with wolves 22. Using mound as observation post 23. Burrow site

  • Deep soil layers
  • Few rocks
  • No flooding
  • Productive vegetation regime
  • Flat land, minimum slope
  • 30 50 entrances per acre
  • Entrance use can extend to 100 years.
  • 2 5 entrances
  • Depth of 3 -10 feet
  • Total length 50 feet
  • Diameter 4 5 inches
  • Entrance mound 3 6 feet.
  • In dry conditions, mound may blow away and not build up.

24. 25. 26. 27. 28. The coyote is a prairie dog predator 29. Golden Eagles are the most efficient of the aerial predators. Hawks and eagles are most efficient in winter. 30. Badgers are the most prolific and will dig up and kill an entire family 31. Prairie RattlesnakesI 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. 32. Burrowing Owl live in the burrows but seldom predate the dogs 33. The owls actually benefit from both the burrows and the dogs vigilance in watching for other predators 34. Bisons are beneficiaries of the Prairie Dog aeration of the soil, the young, nutritious shoots, and the available mounds for dusting. 35. Plants and Prairie Dogs

  • The bulk of the prairie dog diet is made up of five grasses
  • Blue grama
  • Buffalo grass
  • Sixweeks fescue
  • Tumblegrass
  • Western Wheatgrass
  • In one year, one cow eats the equivalent of 256 adult prairie dogs!!

36. Western Wheatgrass 37. Blue Grama 38. Buffalo Grass 39. Sixweeks fescue 40. Tumblegrass also tumble lovegrass 41. Diet

  • The prairie dog diet includes many more plants such as orange globe mallow.
  • The additional plants vary depending upon the season.
  • They will eat grasshoppers and have been cannibalistic at times.
  • Sometimes they chew taller, more fibrous grasses to clear observation areas.

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 43. 44. 45. Questions???????

  • How does activity level change during day?
  • Which areas of the dog town have the most young?
  • Is there are difference in response to humans from those adjacent the road to the distant mounds?
  • What is the density of burrows?
  • Is there always a watch dog? Or do they all forage at the same time?


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