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We capitalized on a regional-scale, anthropogenic experiment?the reduction of black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) towns across the Great Plains of North America?to test the hypothesis that decline of this species has led to declines in diversity of native grassland vertebrates of this region. We compared species richness and species composition of non-volant mammals, reptiles and amphibians at 36 prairie dog towns and 36 paired sites in the Panhandle Region of Oklahoma during the summers and falls of 1997, 1998 and 1999. We detected 30 species of mammals, 18 species of reptiles and seven species of amphibians. Comparisons between communities at prairie dog towns and paired sites in the adjacent landscape...
1. Soil disturbance by animals affects the availability of water, nutrients, sediment and seeds, which are critical for the maintenance of functional ecosystems. We examined long-lived faunal structures across six vegetation communities in the northern Chihuahuan desert of New Mexico, USA, testing the proposition that disturbances in undesertified grassland differ in magnitude and effect from those in desertified grassland. 2. Vertebrate and invertebrate disturbances totalled 18.9 structures ha−1 across 18 sites. The most common were pits and mounds of American badgers (Taxidea taxus, 32%), nests of the ant Aphaenogaster cockerelli (18.8%) and mounds of kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spectabilis, 31%). 3. Desertification...
Ecosystem engineering by animals can create new habitats and increase the heterogeneity of the habitat mosaic that in turn can increase plant and animal diversity. Prairie dogs in North America alter both the above- and below-ground structure of the landscape and create novel habitats in grassland ecosystems. The ground-dwelling arthropod community associated with Gunnison's prairie dog modified habitats is compositionally different from that found in the surrounding grassland. Individual arthropod families and species have different distributions in both active prairie dog towns and inactive towns, compared to unmodified grasslands. These different responses to ecosystem engineering increase beta (between-habitat)...

    map background search result map search result map Conservation of prairie dog ecosystem engineering may support arthropod beta and gamma diversity Conservation of prairie dog ecosystem engineering may support arthropod beta and gamma diversity