In a recent article on prairie dogs, it is mentioned that their main purpose in the world is to feed other plains animals, provide homes for owls and plague the herds, fields and wallets of ranchers and farmers. While all of these functions are legitimate, it did not mention the main importance of prairie dogs.
Prairie dogs dig their burrows, sometimes 50 holes an acre, all across the plains. These burrows go down several feet, letting rain water flow directly to roots of the grass. It also allows water to replenish the water table and underground aquifers. Now that water levels are dropping and Western cities are growing nervous, prairie dogs will need to have large numbers to balance human water use by replenishing our ground water systems and underground aquifers.