Rocky Mountain Research Station Publications

RMRS Online Publication - Journal Articles, External Publications, and Special Reports
Prescribed fire: A proposed management tool to facilitate black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colony expansion


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.

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.

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


About PDFs: For best results, do not open the PDF in your Web browser. Right-click on the PDF link to download the PDF file directly to your computer. Click here for more PDF help.


Download Article
http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2013_archuleta_f001.pdf

PDF File Size: 2.5 MB


Title: RMRS Other Publications: Prescribed fire: A proposed management tool to facilitate black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colony expansion
Electronic Publish Date: September 20, 2013
Last Update:
September 20, 2013

RMRS Publications | Order a publication | Contact Us