Grasslands are generally dominated by plants in the family Poaceae. While generally quite biologically diverse they can also contain members of the rush family as well as a large variety of wildflowers. Perennial grass root systems often have remarkable soil conservation properties, forming subsurface mats or sometimes having roots that extend downward by tens of metres. Typical average rainfall for grassland biomes is 500 to 1000 millimetres per annum. Grasslands are often some of the most important habitats for conservation, since they are inherently vulnerable to agricultural conversion and urbanisation. The image at the right illustrates a healthy grassland on the island of Mull, Scotland, displaying rush and sedge components as well as a gamut of forbs.
Palouse grasslandsLast Updated on 2014-03-06 15:18:43The Palouse grasslands ecoregion extends over eastern Washington, northwestern Idaho and northeastern Oregon. Grasslands and savannas once covered extensive areas of the inter-mountain west, from southwest Canada into western Montana in the USA. Today, areas like the great Palouse prairie of eastern are virtually eliminated as natural areas due to conversion to rangeland. The Palouse, formerly a vast expanse of native wheatgrasses (Agropyron spp), Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis), and other grasses, has been plowed and converted to wheat fields or is covered by Drooping Brome (Bromus tectorum) and other alien plant species.
The Palouse lies in the rain shadow of the Cascades and has a generally semiarid climate. This climate is similar to that of the annual grasslands of California, yet the Palouse historically resembled the mixed-grass vegetation of the Central grasslands,... More »
Montana valley and foothill grasslandsLast Updated on 2014-03-04 17:28:53The Montana valley and foothill grasslands ecoregion occupies high valleys and foothill regions in the central Rocky Mountains of Montana in the USA and Alberta, Canada. The ecoregion, part of the Nearctic realm, occupies the Rocky Mountain Front, the uppermost flatland reaches of the Missouri River drainage involving part of the Yellowstone River basin, and extends into the Clark Fork-Bitterroot drainage of the Columbia River system. The ecoregion also extends marginally into a small part of northern Wyoming. Having moderate vertebrate species richness, 321 different vertebrate taxa have been recorded in the Montana valley and foothill grasslands. The Montana valley and foothill grasslands is deemed an element of the Temperate Grasslands, Savannas, Shrublands Biome.
The Canadian component of this ecoregion is characterized by undulating to rolling topography, and surface deposits are... More »
Flint Hills tall grasslandsLast Updated on 2014-03-04 17:28:04The Flint Hills tall grasslands covers the Flint Hills of Kansas and the Osage Plains of northeastern Oklahoma, in the USA. The Flint Hills tall grasslands is the smallest grassland ecoregion in North America. It can be distinguished from other grassland associations by the dominance of tallgrass species–and from the Central tall grasslands to the north by its more depauperate biota and a thin soil layer spread over distinct beds of limestone. These flinty beds of limestone, from which the name of this ecoregion is derived, rendered large areas unsuitable for corn or wheat farming. Today, the Flint Hills tall grasslands is an anomaly–an essentially unplowed (although heavily grazed) remnant of the tallgrass prairie. Historically, wildfire, drought and grazing by American Bison (Bison bison) and other ungulates were the principal drivers of habitat disturbance in this... More »
Central tall grasslandsLast Updated on 2014-03-04 17:13:01The Central tall grasslands extend over southern Minnesota, most of Iowa, an element of eastern South Dakota, and present as a narrow finger through eastern Nebraska and northeastern Kansas in the USA. This ecoregion is within the Nearctic ecoregion category. The tallgrass prairie of the USA and Canada is divided into three ecoregions: the Central, Northern, and Flint Hills tall grasslands. Agricultural conversion and development of wind farms have brought considerable habitat destruction to this ecoregion.
The Central tall grasslands are the most mesichabitat characterized by moderate soil moisture of the grasslands of the central plains of North America. It can be distinguished from other grassland associations by the dominance of tallgrass species–a feature once relatively uniform across its range–and by the highest levels of precipitation (100 centimeters per... More »
Central and Southern mixed grasslandsLast Updated on 2014-03-04 16:50:49The Central and Southern mixed grasslands ecoregion extends over part of central Nebraska, central Kansas, western Oklahoma, and north-central Texas as far south as the Red River Valley in the USA. It separates the tallgrass prairie and the Central forests/grassland transition zone from the Western short grasslands. Essentially, this region is a broad ecotone that covers slightly more than 282,000 square kilometers. It is distinguished from the Northern mixed grasslands by warmer temperatures and a much longer growing season, and from the adjacent tallgrass and short grasslands by the intermediate stature of the grassland layer.
This ecoregion can be distinguished from the Central forests/grassland transition zone to the east by a relative scarcity of tree and shrub cover. The major ecological disturbance regimes are drought, the degree and intensity of grazing by domestic... More »
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