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This book by the renowned naturalist and writer Paul A. Johnsgard tells the complex biological and environmental story of the western Great Plains under the black-tailed prairie dog’s reign—and then under a brief but devastating century of human dominion.
An introduction to the ecosystem of the shortgrass prairie, Prairie Dog Empire describes in clear and detailed terms the habitat and habits of black-tailed prairie dogs; their subsistence, seasonal behavior, and the makeup of their vast colonies; and the ways in which their “towns” transform the surrounding terrain—for better or for worse. Johnsgard recounts how this terrain has in turn been transformed over the past century by the destruction of prairie dogs and their grassland habitats. This book also offers a rare and invaluable close-up view of the rich history and threatened future of the creature once considered the “keystone” species of the western plains.
Included are maps, drawings, and listings of more than two hundred natural grassland preserves where many of the region’s native plants and animals may still be seen and studied.
|Publisher:||UNP - Nebraska|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Paul A. Johnsgard is Foundation Regents Professor Emeritus in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is the winner of the 2004 National Conservation Achievement Award and recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, both sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, and the author of more than five dozen books on natural history, including Sandhill and Whooping Cranes: Ancient Voices over America’s Wetlands (available in a Bison Books edition).
Table of Contents
List of Maps viii
List of Illustrations viii
List of Tables ix
1 The Western Shortgrass Prairie: A Brief History 1
2 A Buffalo Nation: Its Death and Rebirth 12
3 Prairie Dogs and the American West: Little Towns on the Prairie 28
4 Ferrets, Badgers, Bobcats, and Coyotes: Coping with Dangerous Neighbors 47
5 Free-loaders and Hangers-on: The Rewards and Dangers of City Life 61
6 Other High Plains Wildlife: Born on the American Steppes 79
7 The High Plains Raptors: Death Rides on Silent Wings 95
8 The Varmint and Predator Wars: It's Finally Almost Quiet on the Western Front 106
9 Taming the Great American Desert: Hardscrabble Times at the Fringes of Nowhere 118
10 The USPS, BLM, and BIA: How the West Was Lost 129
11 The Great Plains Grassland Ecosystem: Can It Be Saved? 146
Appendix 1 A Guide to National Grasslands, Reservations, and Nature Preserves on the High Plains 151
Appendix 2 Scientific Names of Animals in the Text 193