Vegetation of prairie dog colonies and non-colonized shortgrass prairie

Winter, S. L.
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Winter et al. measured the effects of prairie dog herbivory and soil disturbance on vegetation composition and cover at random and shortgrass prairie sites. In general, vegetation composition and cover on prairie dog colonies was dominated by annual forbs and perennial grass species associated with heavy grazing, while vegetation at random sites without prairie dog colonies was dominated by mid-grass species and perennial forbs. Random sites were significantly different from prairie dog colonies in most cases, whereas shortgrass prairie sites and prairie dog colonies tended to be similar, possibly due to the evolution of these grassland species with herbivory. The authors concluded that black-tailed prairie dogs can alter the vegetation in some grassland habitats, however, prairie dog impacts may be lower in the shortgrass prairie, as this grassland type may have evolved with prairie dog disturbances.
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Montana State University

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