The grasslands of North America make up approximately 15 per cent of the continent. These grasslands can be broken down into three classes including shortgrass prairie, mixed-grass prairie and tallgrass prairie. Within these classes of grassland, there are also a number of other plants and animals that are primarily found only within these grassland regions.
Buffalo grass is a prairie shortgrass that is found throughout the grassland regions of Kansas, Nebraska, Western South Dakota and Eastern Wyoming. Buffalo grass was once the primary source of food for another grassland native, the American buffalo. Buffalo grass is a blue-green grass that is well adapted to the grasslands to survive the droughts and high temperatures common to the area.
Little Bluestem Grass
Little bluestem grass, also called Bunchgrass, is found throughout most of the United States, but it is a native prairie grass that is an important part of the grassland biome. The grass has blue-green stems that grow into tall mahogany red seed shafts. This ornamental grass is essential to grassland wildlife as it provides food for birds and grazing animals and nesting material for birds and small rodents.
Goldenrod is a perennial fall-blooming flower that is commonly found in Kansas and across other Great Plains grasslands. Goldenrod is a tall plant with bushy yellow clusters of flowers. It is used in grazing pastures for livestock and is an important food source for many different species of insect.
The wild turkey, one widely found throughout the North American continent, is a native of the U.S. grasslands. Excessive hunting by early European immigrants decreased the numbers of wild birds, but they can still be found in some locations such as Kansas and Oklahoma.
The prairie chicken, also called the pinnated grouse, is a small bird dependent upon the grassland habitat. In many locations, population growth and urban development have destroyed nesting areas of the prairie chicken causing a dramatic decrease in their numbers.
The pronghorn antelope is a true native to the grasslands of North America, as this is the only place in the world they can be found in the wild. The pronghorn is the fastest mammal in North America, speeding across the grasslands at speeds up to 60mph. Hunting and urban development has had an impact on the number of wild pronghorns left in the grasslands, though they still may be found in some prairie locations.
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