How Moderate Disturbances From Prairie Dogs Are Essential Essay

1986 Words Nov 22nd, 2016 8 Pages
Many animals influence their local habitat by energy and material uptake and waste production, while many other organisms change the chemical balance and alter the local infrastructure. Through a variety of mechanisms, animals are equipped to modify their local community, but animals that change a habitat’s structure through the physical process of engineering and consumption of plant material indirectly regulate an ecosystem’s infrastructure and dynamics. (Wright and Jones 2006; Davidson and Lightfoot 2008). These engineers increase and shape landscape heterogeneity and biodiversity by creating unique patches of habitat that differ from the surrounding landscape (Wright and Jones 2006; Davidson and Lightfoot 2008). While all species interact with their environment to varying degrees, prairie dog (Cynomys spp.) colonies have unique and influential impacts on other organisms and the ecosystem processes in North American grasslands. This paper will examine how moderate disturbances from prairie dogs are essential components to a successfully sustainable ecosystem, and how without them, there would be detrimental effects on ecological processes necessary for greater biological heterogeneity within grasslands.
Prairie dogs are large herbivorous rodents that burrow and live colonially. Historically, the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), was common throughout the mixed-grass prairies of the Great Plains, but for agricultural purposes, persistent efforts to…

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