Keystone species have large impacts on community and ecosystem properties, and create important ecological interactions with other species. Prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.) and banner-tailed kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spectabilis) are considered keystone species of grassland ecosystems, and create a mosaic of unique habitats on the landscape. These habitats are known to attract a number of animal species, but little is known about how they affect arthropod communities. Our research evaluated the keystone roles of prairie dogs and kangaroo rats on arthropods at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico, USA. We evaluated the impacts of these rodents on ground-dwelling arthropod and grasshopper communities in areas where prairie dogs and kangaroo rats co-occurred compared to areas where each rodent species occurred alone. Our results demonstrate that prairie dogs and kangaroo rats have keystone-level impacts on these arthropod communities. Their burrow systems provided important habitats for multiple trophic and taxonomic groups of arthropods, and increased overall arthropod abundance and species richness on the landscape. Many arthropods also were attracted to the aboveground habitats around the mounds and across the landscapes where the rodents occurred. Detritivores, predators, ants, grasshoppers, and rare rodent burrow inhabitants showed the strongest responses to prairie dog and kangaroo rat activity. The impacts of prairie dogs and kangaroo rats were unique, and the habitats they created supported different assemblages of arthropods. Where both rodent species occurred together on the landscape, there was greater habitat heterogeneity and increased arthropod diversity.


Other Identifier


Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity (KNB) Identifier


Document Type



This dataset was originally published on the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network Data Portal,, and potentially via other repositories or portals as described. The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) of the source data package is doi:10.6073/pasta/83b213df2e320b517a3e42ec16460ac3, and may be accessed at Metadata and files included in this record mirror as closely as possible the source data and documentation, with the provenance metadata and quality report generated by the LTER portal reproduced here as '*-provenance.xml' and *-report.html' files, respectively.


Data Policies: This dataset is released to the public and may be freely downloaded. Please keep the designated Contact person informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation or collaboration with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset must include proper acknowledgement of the Sevilleta LTER. Datasets must be cited as in the example provided. A copy of any publications using these data must be supplied to the Sevilleta LTER Information Manager. By downloading any data you implicitly acknowledge the LTER Data Policy (


Temporal coverage

1999-10-01 - 2002-05-01

Spatial coverage

The study site was located near the base of the Los Pinos mountains and directly adjacent to the nothern fencline of the SNWR at Pino Gate



Permanent URL

knb-lter-sev.198.123630-metadata.html (99 kB)
Show full metadata

knb-lter-sev.198.123630-provenance.xml (4 kB)
Show provenance metadata

knb-lter-sev.198.123630-report.html (27 kB)
Show original LTER Network Data Portal ingest report

sev198_pdoghoppermound_01142009.txt (88 kB)
Data in TXT format


Article Location