On prairie

April 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

Jump on over to The Prairie Ecologist to read a guest essay by Doug Ladd, Director of Conservation Science for the Nature Conservancy of Missouri. Here’s an excerpt from his essay, reprinted there, entitled “Why Prairie Matters”:

To visit a prairie is to be immersed in the result of thousands of generations of competition and natural selection resulting in a dynamic array of diversity, which, collectively, is supremely attuned to this uniquely midcontinental landscape.

Here flourish long-lived, deep-rooted perennial plants annealed by the frequent Native American fires, searing summer droughts, frigid winters, episodes of intensive grazing and trampling, and rapid, recurrent freeze-thaw cycles that exemplify the Midwest. These plants in all their varied magnificence in turn support myriad animals ranging from minute prairie leafhoppers that spend their entire lives in a few square meters to wide-ranging mammals and birds that travel hundreds or even thousands of miles in a season.

Prairie matters beyond the prairies themselves.

(Read on! Read on. We must be thinking about these things. And then, hopefully, carefully, acting.)

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