Western North American Juniperus Communities pp 156-169

Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 196) | Cite as

Ecological Consequences of the Replacement of Native Grassland by Juniperus virginiana and Other Woody Plants

  • Alan K. Knapp
  • J. K. McCarron
  • A. M. Silletti
  • G. A. Hoch
  • J. C. Heisler
  • M. S. Lett
  • John M. Blair
  • J. M. Briggs
  • M. D. Smith

Although grasslands have been altered by humans for thousands of years (Wedel 1961; Bond et al. 2003), the loss of grassland as a result of anthropogenic activities has increased dramatically over the past 150 years. When Europeans first settled the Midwest and Great Plains, the greatest threat to native grasslands was the conversion of the most highly productive of these ecosystems to row-crop agriculture (Samson and Knopf 1994). Later, with improvements in soil moisture management and irrigation technology, even low-productivity grasslands were plowed. Today, those remnants of the most productive grasslands that escaped the plow are threatened, as are most of Earth’s ecosystems, by a variety of global change phenomena (Vitousek et al. 1997), with the invasion and expansion of woody species into grasslands one of the greatest of these threats. The replacement of grasslands by shrubland, woodland, and forest is a concern not only in the United States but worldwide (Archer et al. 1988; Van Auken 2000; Roques et al. 2001; Silva et al. 2001). Species of woody plants that invade grasslands may include both native plants which previously existed as more minor components of the ecosystem as well as alien species (Bragg and Hulbert 1976; Harcombe et al. 1993).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan K. Knapp
    • 1
  • J. K. McCarron
    • 2
  • A. M. Silletti
    • 3
  • G. A. Hoch
    • 4
  • J. C. Heisler
    • 1
  • M. S. Lett
    • 2
  • John M. Blair
    • 2
  • J. M. Briggs
    • 5
  • M. D. Smith
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of BiologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  3. 3.Department of Forest ResourcesClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyConcordia CollegeMoorheadUSA
  5. 5.School of Life ScienceArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  6. 6.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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