Prairie dogs are keystone species that impact both animals and plants in grassland habitats. They are a food resource for secondary consumers such as badgers, foxes, and raptors. Also, the mounds that they construct are home to many arthropod and reptile species that otherwise might not survive in grasslands. Both Gunnison’s and black-tailed prairie dogs can increase the number of plant species in grasslands and landscape heterogeneity with their ecosystem engineering that creates disturbed patches on the landscape. Gunnison’s prairie dogs, which were native herbivores at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) before their populations disappeared, were reintroduced at the Sevilleta NWR in 1997, 2005, and 2008. In 1998, a Gunnison’s prairie dog colony naturally established along the northern border on the east side of the Refuge. The naturally occurring colony and the colony that was reintroduced in 1997 have since then severely declined or gone locally extinct. Still, with the removal of cattle from the Sevilleta in 1973, the reintroductions of Gunnison’s prairie dogs in 2005 and 2008 provides an interesting opportunity to study how a native keystone herbivore affects a grassland habitat without the pressures and competition from livestock.


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/47b70070ab9a1ba933cba7d082215236, 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

2005-04-24 - 2013-04-17

Spatial coverage

The study area is about 655 ha (~2.5 sq mi) in size and approximately 1 km due west from the foothills of the Los Pinos Mountains. The study is also just north of the Blue Grama Core Site.The center of plot B is: -106.628, 34.333. The center of plot D is: -106.636, 34.324



Permanent URL

knb-lter-sev.212.4-metadata.html (86 kB)
Show full metadata

knb-lter-sev.212.4-provenance.xml (4 kB)
Show provenance metadata

knb-lter-sev.212.4-report.html (25 kB)
Show original LTER Network Data Portal ingest report

sev212_pdogvegcover_20130509.txt (577 kB)
Data in TXT format


Article Location