Prairie Dogs: Communication and Community in an Animal Society

Overview

Constantine Slobodchikoff and colleagues synthesize the results of their long-running study of Gunnison’s prairie dogs (Cynomys gunnisoni), one of the keystone species of the short-grass prairie ecosystem. They set their research in the context of the biology of the five Cynomys species found in the United States and Mexico, and detail their investigation into the prairie dogs’ sophisticated system of barks, yips, and chirps, which Slobodchikoff argues represents a referential ...

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Overview

Constantine Slobodchikoff and colleagues synthesize the results of their long-running study of Gunnison’s prairie dogs (Cynomys gunnisoni), one of the keystone species of the short-grass prairie ecosystem. They set their research in the context of the biology of the five Cynomys species found in the United States and Mexico, and detail their investigation into the prairie dogs’ sophisticated system of barks, yips, and chirps, which Slobodchikoff argues represents a referential communication capable of fine distinctions among predators.

Seen as vermin that spoiled valuable rangeland, prairie dogs were long the subject of eradication campaigns and are now threatened by habitat loss and the loss of genetic diversity. The authors hope their research will help to pull the prairie dog back from the brink of extinction, as well as foster an appreciation of larger conservation challenges. By examining the complex factors behind prairie dog decline, we can begin to understand the problems inherent in our adversarial relationship with the natural world. Understanding these interactions is the first step toward a more sustainable future.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

A fascinating examination of the complex social structure, communication systems, and behavior patterns of prairie dogs in their environments...A very interesting and intriguing look at a species that, while often considered a pest, is actually a critical player in maintaining ecosystem biodiversity.
— K. K. Goldbeck

Nicole Rosmarino
This book is a call to action on behalf of prairie dogs, a swiftly declining but ecologically vital genus. It urges scientists, policymakers, and the rest of us to prevent the collapse of dwindling prairie dog ecosystems and imbeds prairie dog imperilment in the broader global extinction crisis. Slobodchikoff and his co-authors blend science with conscience, giving us a well-researched glimpse into the varied and fascinating world we risk losing if we don't alter course.
Choice - K. K. Goldbeck
A fascinating examination of the complex social structure, communication systems, and behavior patterns of prairie dogs in their environments...A very interesting and intriguing look at a species that, while often considered a pest, is actually a critical player in maintaining ecosystem biodiversity.
Choice
A fascinating examination of the complex social structure, communication systems, and behavior patterns of prairie dogs in their environments...A very interesting and intriguing look at a species that, while often considered a pest, is actually a critical player in maintaining ecosystem biodiversity.
— K. K. Goldbeck
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674031814
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/2/2009
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Con Slobodchikoff is Professor of Biology at Northern Arizona University.

Bianca S. Perla has a doctorate in ecology, College of Forest Resources, University of Washington.

Jennifer Verdolin is a postdoctoral researcher at SUNY Stony Brook.

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Table of Contents

  • Preface

  • 1. Prairie Dogs and the Big Picture
  • 2. The Biology of Prairie Dogs
  • Interlude: Taxonomy and Prairie Dog Taxonomists
  • 3. Social Behavior of Prairie Dogs
  • Interlude: Social Behavior—Trapping Prairie Dogs
  • 4. Communication
  • Interlude: Communication
  • 5. The Population Biology of Prairie Dogs
  • 6. The Ecology of Prairie Dogs
  • Interlude: Vertebrate Species Associated with Prairie Dogs, by Richard Reading
  • 7. Economics: How Much Is a Prairie Dog Worth?
  • Interlude: Prairie Dogs as Pets
  • 8. Prairie Dog Conservation
  • 9. Room to Hope

  • Appendix: Where to See Prairie Dogs
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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