- Plural of prairie
- Plural of prairie
Prairie, from the french prairie ("meadow", "grassland", "pasture", "prairie"), refers to an area of land of low topographic relief that historically supported grasses and herbs, with few or no trees, and having generally a mesic climate.
In North AmericaLands typically referred to as "prairie" tend to be in North America. The term encompasses much of the area referred to as the Great Plains of the United States and Canada. In the U.S., the area is constituted by most or all of the following states; North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, and sizable parts of the states of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Minnesota. The Central Valley of California is also prairie. The Canadian Prairies occupy vast areas of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.
DroughtIn spite of long recurrent droughts and occasional torrential rains, the grasslands of the Great Plains are not subject to great soil erosion. The deep, interconnected root systems of prairie grasses firmly hold the soil in place and prevent run-off. These deep roots also help prairie plants to reach water in even the driest conditions. The prairie evolved to survive in extreme conditions and suffers less damage from dry conditions than the farm crops which have replaced many former prairies.
FireFire is an important part of prairie ecology; natural and human-induced fires were common in historic prairie areas, rejuvenating the herbaceous species, and top killing trees and brush. Grazing by animals such as the American Bison and Prairie dogs also helped maintain the original prairie ecology. Small areas of prairies also exist in eastern North America, and it is possible that these were created by Native Americans by periodic burning. One such area was along the southeastern shore of Lake Erie in what is now Pennsylvania and New York; another was between Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake in present New York.
Preserved prairiesSignificant preserved areas of prairie include:
- Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan
- Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta and Saskatchewan
- Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, in Will County, Illinois
- Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Iowa
- Konza Prairie, Manhattan, Kansas
- Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Kansas
- Tallgrass Prairie Preserve 32,000 acres (130 km²), Oklahoma
- Nine-Mile Prairie, Nebraska
- Zumwalt Prairie, Wallowa County, Oregon
- Richard Bong State Recreation Area, in Kenosha County, Wisconsin
- Hoosier Prairie, Lake County, Indiana
- Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, Pennsylvania
- Clymer Meadow Preserve, Hunt County, Texas
- Tallgrass Aspen Parkland, Manitoba & Minnesota
Virgin prairiesVirgin prairie refers to prairie land that has never been plowed. Small virgin prairies exist in the American Midwestern states and in Canada. Restored prairie refers to a prairie that has been reseeded after plowing or other disturbance.
In the worldPrairies are considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type. Other temperate grasslands regions include the Pampas of Argentina, and the steppes of Russia and Ukraine and Western Germany.
- The Prairie Enthusiasts Grassland protection and restoration in the upper Midwest.
- Prairie Plains Resource Institute
- The Native Prairies Association of Texas
- Terraformers Canadian Prairie Conservation Foundation