Grassland Ecology and Conservation

Science Center Objects

Grasslands are arguably one of the most anthropogenically stressed ecosystems of the western United States. The highly endangered black-footed ferret and prairie dogs epitomize grassland mammals of high conservation concern.

Image: Black-Footed Ferret

The USGS National Wildlife Health Center is working to develop an oral vaccine to protect the endangered black-footed ferret from plague. Public domain.

The Utah prairie dog is a federally listed species, while black-tailed prairie dogs, white-tailed prairie dogs, and Gunnison's prairie dogs all have received attention in the form of listing proposals. Research conducted within this project will focus on these imperiled prairie dog communities and their vertebrate and invertebrate associates, but will not necessarily be limited to those communities. Studies will be driven by the need to better understand ecological relationships among grassland animals, interactions of these animals with their environments, and anthropogenic influences affecting these systems. There will be a continuing emphasis on research with conservation applications.

Image: Utah Prairie Dog

Recovery efforts for the imperiled Utah prairie dog are greatly hampered by the effects of plague.Public domain.

FORT personnel involved in the Grasslands Ecology and Conservation Project maintain close contact with the Black-footed Ferret and Utah Prairie Dog Recovery Implementation Teams, are members of various subcommittees of those groups, and are involved in various other groups working on conservation of prairie dogs and other grassland species.