Pino Gate Prairie Dog Study at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico: Mound-Scale Lizard Data (2000-2002)



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 lizard communities. Our research evaluated the keystone roles of prairie dogs and kangaroo rats on lizards at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico, USA. We evaluated the impacts of these rodents on lizard 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 lizard communities. Their burrow systems provided important habitats for multiple lizard species, especially the lesser earless lizard (Holbrookia maculata). At the landscape-scale, the total number of lizards was two-times greater on the where both prairie dogs and banner-tailed kangaroo rats co-occurred than where only kangaroo rats occurred.

Data set ID: 


Date Range: 

Thursday, June 1, 2000 to Thursday, August 1, 2002

Publication Date: 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016