Link: Prairie dogs kill ground squirrels

Ed Yong writes about a long-term study of prairie dog sociality that demonstrated a surprising behavior among females: they kill dozens of ground squirrels: “Adorable Prairie Dogs Brutally Kill Baby Ground Squirrels”.

The consequences of the kills were even more extraordinary. Hoogland showed that females who killed ground squirrels produced larger litters every year, and successfully raised more youngsters over their lifetimes—and the more they killed, they more successful they were. No other factor correlated with their success as parents—not body weight, colony size, or even longevity! Put it this way: Killing ground squirrels is the number one way in which female prairie dogs can get an advantage over their peers.

They don’t consume the ground squirrels, they just seem to kill them to eliminate competitors for the roots and plant material that they eat. The little carcasses are then removed by raptors. It’s a striking interaction of two species that I grew up around.