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Tall Grass Prairie

Grassland is the largest of the four major natual vegetation formations that covers the earths land surface

Todd Golder

on 19 August 2012

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Transcript of Tall Grass Prairie

Tall Grass Vegetation Communities
PNV 66-Bluestem "True Prairie"
PNV 67-Nebraska Sandhills Prairie
PNV 68- Blackland Prairie
PNV 72- Oak Savanna
PNV 73-Bluestem Prairie and the Oak Hickory Forest
PNV 75- Cross Timbers
Andropogon gerardii
Panicum virgatum
Sorgastrum nutans
Sorghastrum nutans
Panicum virgatum
Andropogon gerardii
North Dakota and Minnesota southward to Oklahoma
Dominated the lowlands
Grows in large clumps, rhizomatous
Nutritious to livestock and wildlife
Big Bluestem
Western edge in low moist areas
Eastern edge near forest ecotones
Sod forming, growing in dense colonies
3-6 feet tall
Indian grass
Dense vegetation of tall grasses
Many perennial forbs
The most mesic of the grasslands of the US Central Plains
Has a diverse N-S gradient in precipitation
More precipitation in the south
75% comes during summer growing season with summer drought becoming periodic
Fire was influential under pristine conditions
Burn frequency every 3 to 5 years
Lightning strikes
Tall Grass Prairie
Are primarly Mollisols
Grading into Alfisols along forest edges or in seasonal mosaic
Natural Disturbance Vector: Fire
Topography described as flat to rolling hills of grass
Remnant Area:
Flint Hills, Kansas
Osage Hills, Oklahoma
Sand Hills, Nebraska
Disturbance Vector- Native Wildlife
Native tall grass species have a high resistants to grazing pressure
Evolved under wild ungulate by the grazing of bison
Only about 1 to 2% left
Minnesota 75,000-100,000
Iowa 10,000 acres
Missouri 70,000
South Dakota 50,000
Indiana 200-400
Nebraska and Southern South Dakota
Calamovilfa longifolia
Prairie Sandreed
Medium dense to open grasslands
Changes are generally less marked
Fragile sandy soils susceptible to wind erosion
Watershed, wildlife and domestic grazing are the primary use.
and Andropogon gerardii
Grows throughout summer
Produces from seed and rhizomes
Drought tolerant and increases during drought
Fair forage to cattle and wildlife
PNV 67-Nebraska Sandhills
PNV 66-Bluestem Prairie
PNV 68-Blackland Prairie
Located in Texas and South Oklahoma
Intermingled with the CrossTimbers
This ecoregion is ideally suited to crop agriculture.
This has led to most of the Blackland Prairie ecosystem being converted to crop production
Vertisol soils, rather than Mollisols
Schizachyrium scoparium
Little Bluestem
Dominating the upland, open woods and dry hills
Good for all livestock when immature
1 to 3 feet tall
Bunchgrass with clumps
Grades into the mixed grass prairie
Bouteloua curtipendula
Sideoats grama
Reproduces by seeds, tillers and rhizomes
The small oat-like seeds develop on the side of the stalk.
Good for all classes of livestock and wildlife throughout summer and fall
PNV 72-Oak Savanna
Located in Wisconsin, North Dakota and Minnesota
Tall grass prairie with broadleaf decidious trees scattered or in groves
Burr Oak
Quercus macrocarpa
Often found near waterways in more forested areas, where there is a break in the canopy.
It is also a fire-resistant tree, and possesses significant drought resistance by virtue of a long taproot.
New trees, after two to three years of growth, may have a 1–2 m deep taproot.
Throughout prairie
Favors mesic conditions
2-6 feet tall
Short scaly rhizomes
Highly nutritious
PNV 73-Bluestem Prairie and Oak Hickory Forest
PNV 75- Cross Timbers

Texas to Kansas
The woodland and savanna portions of the Cross Timbers are mainly post oak and blackjack oak on coarse, sandy soils
fire suppression in recent years has increased forest density and allowed Eastern redcedar to invade as well.
The short, stout oaks that grow in the Cross Timbers were no good for timber and those that were not cleared for farmland constitute one of the least disturbed forest types in the eastern United
Black Jack Oak
Quercus marilandica
Post Oak
Quercus stellata
The Blackjack Oak is small compared to other oaks.
Its thick, black bark is deeply divided into rough, nearly square plates.
The name refers to the use of the wood of this tree for fence posts. Its wood, like that of the other white oaks, is hard, tough and rot-resistant.
Primary forbs include
Lead Plant
Amorpha canescens
Found on drier sandy soils and rocky open woodlands
1 to 3 feet tall
Historically, fire supressed the encroachment of trees and shrubs
Reduced competition from cool season invaders such as Poa pratensis and Bromus inermis
Improves the palatability and nutritional value of the forage
Overgrazing Impacts
Livestock select the most palatable species when grazing
Andropogon geradii, Schizachyrium scoparium, Sorghastrum nutans and Panicum virgatum were the decreaser species
Composed of 80%-93% in excellect condition grasslands
With overgrazing, Panicum virgatum and Sorghastrum nutans decline first
Followed by Schizachyrium scoparium
Andropogon gerardii tends to persist with overgrazing, possibly because of its short strong rhizomes
Bouteloua curtipendula and B. gracilis become more abundant as the tall grass declines
Bouteloua dactyloides increases in overgrazed prairies by as much as 70%
Overgrazing Effects
Increase in Nasella leucotricha (Texas wintergrass) and Buchloe dactyloides (Buffalo grass)
Increase in annual grasses such as Hordeum pusillium, Bromus japonicus, Bromus catharticus an Vulpia octoflora
Overgrazing Effects
Decreases in S. scoparium, Hesperostipa comata (Needle and Thread) and A. gerardii
Increase in Bouteloua hirsuta, Calamovilfa longifolia and Sporobolus cryptandrus
Human Impacts
Unregulated development
Suppression and removal of natural disturbance vectors
Kuchler's PNV Designation
Preserving the Tall Grass Prairie
Zonobiome IIV- Zonobiome of Steppes and Cold Deserts
Cool Temperate
Warm Season
Schizachyrium scoparium
Impacts caused by humans including overgrazing, erosion and reduction of fire have drastically changed the vegetation
The original tall grasses have virtually been eliminated
Replaced with Bouteloua dactyloides, Aristida species, Nasella leucotricha, Bothriochloa laguroides and Cynodon dactylon
Koeleria macrantha-Junegrass
Native perennial cool season tufted bunchgrass found in rangelands, plains and open forestlands
Narrow contracted panicles with an interuption
The glumes are sharp and shiny
No awns, no hairs on the spikelet
But can have hairy pedicels

Spartina pectinata-Prairie Cordgrass
Bottomland Tall grass praire
Upland Tall grass Prairie
Rare part of the tall grass prairie
Large level areas with deep nutrient reach soils and access to moisture
Were ideal for planting crops and other agricultural uses
Preserve is working to restore 500 acres of thos nearly extinct area to its natural state

Prime grazing land for cattle and bison
Shallow rocky soils and steep hillsides makes it difficult to plow which helped to preserve its original characteristics like high plant diversity and deep root systems

Introduced and Invasive Species
Poa pratensis-Kentucky Bluegrass
Coarse, tough warm season perennial grass
Typically grows in a dense arching clump to 4-7' tall when in flower
Look for sharp serrated edges of the leaf blade
Glossy dark green leaves fading to yellow in the autumn
Strong rhizomes grow 5-10' per year
10-20 spikes attached to the main stem-each spike has up to 40 spikelets-1 floret per spikelet
All grow in two rows away from the stem
Identifiable by the sharp pointed awn arising from the glume

Hesperostipa comata-Needle and thread
Nasella leutricha-Texas wintergrass
Open panicle
More than one floret per spikelet
The glume has no awn and neither glume is as long as the florets
Has large or prominent tufts of leaves at the base of the flowering stem
The blade is rounded

Native, cool season, short lived perennial bunch grass
Good forage for livestock but disintegrates rapidly making it poor soil cover
Reproduces by seed but is also cleistogamous
Awns on the seed twist and untwist depending on moisture
Node is pubescent at or above node
Ratibida columnifera-Prairie coneflower
Heads are solitary, several to many per stem, terminal and well above the leaves
Ray and disk flowers
Disk flowers on a cylindrical receptacle
Ray flowers have a notch at the tip
Long pubescent peduncle
Leaves alternate, pinnately divided into 5-13 linear divisions
Leaves are strigose (rough with short straight hairs) hairs on leaves
Native late season herbaceous perennial in the Aster Family-Heliantheae Tribe
Drought tolerant wildlflower of the Great Plains
Grows in dry, open spaces of prairie grasslands
Palatable and nutritious to domestic animals and wildlife
Fills the role as structural cover and nesting habitat for multiple species of upland birds
Native tufted cool season perennial bunchgrass
Grows 1-4 feet tall
Contracted panicle that stays partially in its leaf sheath
4-5 inch awn that arises from the lemma
No hair at the nodes (in comparision to N luecotricha)
Desirable forage for livestock and wildife especially elk and deer
Until the awn develops
Effective soil stabilizer especially on sandy sites
Used on mining reclamation restoration projects
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