• Trophic ecology warrants multispecies management in a grassland setting: Proposed species interactions on black-tailed prairie dog colonies

      Parker, R.A.; Duchardt, C.J.; Dwyer, A.M.; Painter, C.; Pierce, A.K.; Michels, T.J.; Wunder, M.B. (Society for Range Management, 2019-06)
      Trophic cascades occur when flora and fauna directly and/or indirectly influence co-occurring species populations at different levels of the food chain, and North American temperate grasslands provide an interesting case study to research these relationships. We briefly define trophic cascades in terrestrial systems and explore the potential for a cascading trophic interaction among grassland-associated swift fox (Vulpes velox), western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea), and mountain plover (Charadrius montanus), three rangeland species of conservation concern, on black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies using two US Forest Service data sets. Historic patterns of occurrence and co-occurrence suggest top-down control governs the spatiotemporal distribution patterns of the three species and may be influenced by habitat fragmentation and management actions. Managing for interactive, multitrophic communities requires the identification of species interactions and the mechanisms that drive them. Long-term multispecies occupancy research, combined with hypothesized driving mechanisms and the co-occurrence of associated grassland species, is recommended for addressing these complex interactions moving forward. The Society for Range Management