Prairie Dogs Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:24:05
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Category: Biodiversity

Type of paper: Essay

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Prairie dogs have a significant effect on biological diversity in prairie ecosystems. More than 200 species of wildlife have been associated with prairie dog towns, with over 140 species benefitting directly¦ (Williams 34). Terry Tempest Williams, author of the book Finding Beauty in a Broken World, delivers a strong argument as to why prairie dogs should be protected. Prairie dogs contribute to the welfare of animals around them in many ways. They create diversity, kinship and community. Williams also states, They embody two million years of evolving intelligence (Williams 33).

They are social creatures, and they all live in towns and villages. They kiss when they greet each other, as a way of distinguishing one from another. Once recognized, they will engage in nuzzling and other affectionate grooming behaviors. They also are able to distinguish the light from dark. Dogs kept in zoos become so tame, visitors may pet them. Williams gives an example of this in her book when she visits a zoo in North Carolina. She witnesses a man talking to and affectionately petting the belly of a prairie dog (Williams 66).

They are not just rodents and they can be extremely humane and friendly. Prairie dogs, like beavers, are a keystone species- that is one that significantly alters the ecosystem and provides habitat for auxiliary species (Outwater 73). In the book, A Sea of Grass, by Outwater, she delivers a strong argument as to why prairie dogs are beneficial to the grassland ecosystem. Prairie dogs create habitats for other species, because over 200 species live nearby prairie dog burrows. The burrows are never built all the same.

Some have special pockets, turn-around rooms, and others have chambers with grass. The temperature underground is convenient for species living there, being as it is warm in winter, and cooler in the summer. Outwater presents a valid reason for protecting the rodents. For example, she states, In the process of constructing their towns of tunnels, the prairie dogs once moved tons of subsoil above ground, where they mixed it with top soil and organic matter.. (Outwater 74). Many species benefit from this churning of the soil because it creates grasses which are richer in protein.

The prairie dogs also help to increase the amount of water that makes it underground, which enhances the productivity of the soil. Concurrently, more water goes into rivers and streams. Another component of prairie dogs is that they are social, loving creatures. They engage in their own communication. When they see a predator, they make a bark that signals all the dogs around to protect themselves. Prairie dogs provide burrows not only for themselves, but for other animals as well. They also aerate the soil and contribute to water drainage underground.

Prairie dogs eat grass, which in turn shocks the landscape into greater, richer productivity. Prairie dogs need to be protected because they are such an important species to the grassland ecosystem and they are on the brink of extinction. We are living amid a sixth extinction, writes Niles Eldredge, a curator at the American Museum of Natural History, one that, according to the Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson, is costing the Earth some 30,000 species a year.. At this rate, the vast majority of the species on earth today will be gone by the next millennium (quoted in Williams 71).

All species rely on another species for survival. If prairie dogs were to become extinct, many other species and habitats would be at stake also. Some species affected by the decline of prairie dogs include, but are not limited to: the black-footed ferret, mountain plovers and owls, golden eagles, foxes, ferruginous hawks, and deer mice. (Williams 57). The grassland ecosystem as a whole would be at stake, seeing as how every single species contained in it relies upon one another for survival. The author Outwater also believes there is a lot at stake if the dogs become extinct.

She believes that if prairie dogs are eliminated, the productivity of grasslands decreases. Species such as turtles, skunks, snakes, toads, prairie chickens, tiger salamanders, rabbits, eagles, hawks, coyotes, foxes, and many more will not have a place to abide. Also, the water will be at stake because less water would be seeping underground. By less water making it underground, there would ultimately be less water going to streams and rivers. Both Outwater and Williams have extreme arguments as to why prairie dogs should be protected.

Their arguments may differ in many ways, but they agree on a few core points. They both agree that these rodents create habitats for other species, and that they are definitely a keystone species. They prune grass, in turn creating more beneficial food sources for different species. They heighten the water drainage into the subsoil, in turn filling the streams and rivers. They also create diversity, within the plants and the animals surrounding them. They are not just pests either, as agreed upon by Outwater and Williams. They have their own language and ways of communicating.

They exhibit affectionate behavior towards each other and engage in grooming activities and kissing. Even though Williams and Outwater arrive at the same points, their methods of proving them are different. Williams proves her points through mosaics, saying the different broken pieces make up something greater. The different species involved in the grassland ecosystems all play an important role in the bigger picture. Outwater has a different technique. She shows prairie dogs in comparison to the buffalos, water systems, and other species of the grasslands.

She also goes into greater depth of the prairie dog environment as a whole. Although both authors have valid points, I find Williams argument more compelling. Her quotes and examples convince one that prairie dogs really do need to be protected. She states, Prairie dogs create diversity. Destroy them, and you destroy a varied world (Williams 37). From the plants, to the animals in their grassland ecosystem, prairie dogs bring about diversity in everything. Williams uses mosaics as a way to describe the dogs as a part of their ecosystem.

The prairie dogs are an essential part of the grasslands and Williams makes her argument more compelling by comparing them to mosaics. However, both authors come to the same conclusion. Prairie dogs are a species whose very presence contributes to the diversity of life and whose extinction would result in the extinction of species dependant on it. Extra Credit: Williams relates prairie dogs to mosaics by proving that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Mosaics are composed of several broken pieces, making up one beautiful piece.

Prairie dogs are just one essential part of the grassland ecosystems. Even though they are just one part, they are important to everything else around them. Williams uses mosaics as a way to describe the dogs as a part of their ecosystem. She also compares and contrasts the rules of mosaics with prairie dogs and their towns. She states, Tesserae are irregular, rough, individualized, unique. Prairie dogs literally change the land with their hands¦ Many colors are used to create one color from afar. Different hues from the same color were always used in ancient mosaics.

Prairie dogs have a significant effect on biological diversity in prairie ecosystems. More than 200 species of wildlife have been associated with prairie dog towns, with over 140 species benefitting directly¦ (Williams 34). If one piece of the mosaic is missing, it is not a mosaic. Every single piece of the mosaic directly benefits and depends on the others, just like in grassland ecosystems. Every species of animal depends on and directly benefits from another. If prairie dogs were to become extinct, there are so many other animals that would be at stake also.

Their burrows provide protection. Their pruning of the grasses creates a better quality of food for others. Their digging and aerating of the soils allows for more water to seep down and be absorbed by the earth, which in turn provides water for streams and rivers. Williams relates prairie dogs to mosaics in a very compelling argument. She knows that if prairie dogs were to face extinction, an essential part of the grassland ecosystem would be missing, and the rest of the grassland would be directly, negatively affected.

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