15. Case Study: Ecosystem Transformations along the Colorado Front Range: Prairie Dog Interactions with Multiple Components of Global Environmental Change

  1. Richard J. Hobbs4,
  2. Eric S. Higgs5 and
  3. Carol M. Hall5
  1. Timothy R. Seastedt1,
  2. Laurel M. Hartley2 and
  3. Jesse B. Nippert3

Published Online: 31 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118354186.ch15

Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order

Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order

How to Cite

Seastedt, T. R., Hartley, L. M. and Nippert, J. B. (2013) Case Study: Ecosystem Transformations along the Colorado Front Range: Prairie Dog Interactions with Multiple Components of Global Environmental Change, in Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order (eds R. J. Hobbs, E. S. Higgs and C. M. Hall), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118354186.ch15

Editor Information

  1. 4

    Ecosystem Restoration and Intervention Ecology (ERIE) Research Group, School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, Australia

  2. 5

    School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, Canada

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, USA

  2. 2

    Department of Integrative Biology, University of Colorado, USA

  3. 3

    Division of Biology, Kansas State University, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 31 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 19 FEB 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118354223

Online ISBN: 9781118354186

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Keywords:

  • black-tailed prairie dogs;
  • climate change;
  • Colorado Front Range;
  • ecosystem transformation;
  • global environmental change (GEC);
  • keystone species;
  • plant community change

Summary

This chapter describes a case study where a transformation is occurring as a result of events operating on an ecosystem already undergoing responses to a suite of global environmental change (GEC) factors. In the Front Range of Colorado, intensive grazing by black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) in urban and suburban landscapes is interacting with climate change, nutrient deposition and non-native plant invasion. The chapter discusses identification of mechanisms responsible for plant community change. It also discusses how these mechanisms are influenced by presence or absence of an important consumer, the black-tailed prairie dog. Prairie dogs are identified as keystone species and have been discussed for potential listing as threatened and endangered, yet their presence is concern at the urban-wildland interface. The ‘new’ dynamics caused by the interactions of fragmentation, climate change and invasive species are hypothesized to convert a keystone species into an ecosystem transformer.