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Biotic Communities

of Arizona

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Throughout parts of Arizona but generally above 3500 feet one may find broad areas dominated by grasses. Three types of grasslands can be found in Arizona: Great Basin, Plains, and semidesert grasslands. The first two grasslands are southwestern extensions of prairies found in the Great Basin and High Plains respectively. Semidesert grasslands occur in central and southern Arizona and here grasses are often mixed in with succulent plants such as prickly-pear cactus, yucca, or century plant. In other areas small shrubs or desert "trees" such as mesquite grow with the grasses.

A common resident of the Plains grasslands along the eastern border of the state is the black-tailed prairie dog. These furry rodents may live in colonies covering 100 acres or more and including up to 1000 animals. They have an elaborate security system consisting of warning barks which travel quickly among the group as danger approaches. One may see a few standing erect outside of their burrows warning others before fleeing into the safety of their underground homes. Depending on the location and the type of grassland, other notable animals include mule deer, javelina, and numerous species of snakes.

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