The Black-tailed Prairie Dog is a communal and highly social species: family groups or clans known as coteries interact with other coteries, these meld into larger aggregations or wards which coalesce forming towns. Known as a keystone species, their towns can cover thousands of acres and contain so many individuals that the total effect on the ecosystem is greater than the sum of the parts, significantly influencing the structure and function of biotic and abiotic systems. Burrow excavation changes soil characteristics, fosters nutrient recycling, alters surface water runoff patterns and increases infiltration rates. As herbivores, the huge quantities of grass they consume incorporate the grassland's total primary productivity into a massive food base for carnivores like: owls, hawks, eagles, coyotes, foxes, badgers, ferrets, and rattlesnakes.
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