Grasslands of the North American Great Plains

Part of the Tasks for Vegetation Science book series (TAVS, volume 39)


The study of appearances of growth, development, and senescence in grassland communities is not an enterprise commonly pursued. Phenology of mid-latitude grasslands is, nevertheless, too large and diverse a collection of phenomena to cover within a single chapter, as it ought to embrace at once the vast Kazakh steppe, the chalk grasslands of southern England, and myriad other grassy landscapes. Thus, the view here shall be on the grasslands of the North American Great Plains, with particular reference to the tallgrass prairie as a type model.

Key words

Tallgrass prairie Anthesis Transient Maxima Hypothesis Great Plains 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References Cited

  1. Ahshapanek, D., Phenology of a native tall-grass prairie in Central Oklahoma, Ecology, 43, 135–138,1962.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alcocer-Ruthling, M., R. Robberecht, and D. C. Thill, The response of Bouteloua scorpioides to water stress at two phenological stages, Botanical Gazette, 150, 454–461,1989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen, T. F. H., and T.W. Hoekstra, Description of complexity in prairies through hierarchy theory, in Proceedings of the Ninth North American Prairie Conference edited by G.K. Clambey and R.H. Pemble, pp. 71–73, Tri-college University Center for Environmental Studies, Fargo, ND, 1986.Google Scholar
  4. Allen, T. F. H., and T. B. Starr, Hierarchy: Perspectives for Ecological Complexity, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 310 pp., 1982.Google Scholar
  5. Anderson, R. C., and D. E. Adams, Flowering patterns in a central Oklahoma grassland, Ohio Biological Survey Biological Notes, 15,232–235,1981.Google Scholar
  6. Anderson, R. C., and S. Schelfhout, Phenological patterns among tallgrass prairie plants and their implications for pollinator competition, Amer. Midland Naturalist, 104, 253–263, 1980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beatley, J. C., Phenological events and their environmental triggers in Mojave Desert ecosystems, Ecology, 55, 856–863, 1974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Benedict, H. M., Growth of some range grasses in reduced light intensities at Cheyenne, Wyoming, Botanical Gazette, 102, 582–589, 1941.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Benning, T. L., and T. B. Bragg, Response of big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman) to timing of spring burning, Amer. Midland Naturalist, 130,127–132, 1993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Blair, J. M., Fire, N availability, and plant response in grasslands: A test of the transient maxima hypothesis, Ecology, 78,2359–2368, 1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Blair, J. M., T. R. Seastedt, C.W. Rice and R.A. Ramundo, Terrestrial nutrient cycling in tallgrass prairie, in Grassland Dynamics: Long-Term Ecological Research in Tallgrass Prairie edited by A. K. Knapp, D. C. Hartnett, J. M. Briggs, and S. Collins, pp. 222–243, Oxford University Press, New York, 1998.Google Scholar
  12. Bragg, T. B., The physical environment of great plains grasslands, in The Changing Prairie, edited by A. Joern and K. H. Keeler, pp. 49–81, Oxford University Press, New York, 1995.Google Scholar
  13. Briggs, J. M., and A. K. Knapp, Interannual variability in primary production in tallgrass prairie: climate, soil moisture, topographic position and fire as determinants of aboveground biomass, Amer. J. Botany, 82, 1024–1030, 1995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Burke, I. C., W. K. Lauenroth, M. A. Vinton, P. B. Hook, R. H. Kelly, H. E. Epstein, M. R. Aguiar, M. D. Robles, M. O. Aguilera, K. L. Murphy, and R. A. Gill, Plant-soil interactions in temperate grasslands, Biogeochemistry, 42, 121–143, 1998CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Clark J. S., R. Carpenter, M. Barber, S. Collins, A. Dobson, J. Foley, D. Lodge, M. Pascual, R. Pielke Jr., W. Pizer, C. Pringle, W. V. Reid, K. A. Rose, O. Sala, W. H. Schlesinger, D. Wall, and D. Wear, Ecological forecasts: an emerging imperative, Science, 293, 657–660, 2001.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Coffin, D. C., W. K. Lauenroth, and I. C. Burke, Recovery of vegetation in a semiarid grassland 53 years after disturbance, Ecol. Applications, 6, 538–555, 1996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Collins, S., A. K. Knapp, D. C. Hartnett, and J. M. Briggs, The dynamic tallgrass prairie. Synthesis and research opportunities, in Grassland Dynamics: Long-Term Ecological Research in Tallgrass Prairie, edited by A. K. Knapp, D. C. Hartnett, J. M. Briggs, S. Collins, pp. 301–315, Oxford University Press, New York, 1998a.Google Scholar
  18. Collins, S. L., A. K. Knapp, J. M. Briggs, J. M. Blair, and E. M. Steinauer, Modulation of diversity by grazing and mowing in native tallgrass prairie, Science, 280, 745–747, 1998b.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Curtis, J. T. and M. L. Partch, Some factors affecting flower production in Andropogon gerardi, Ecology, 31, 488–489, 1950.Google Scholar
  20. Dewald, C.L, and V. H. Louthan, Sequential development of shoot system components in eastern gamagrass, J. Range Management, 32,147–151, 1979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dickinson, C. E., and J. L. Dodd, Phenological pattern in the shortgrass prairie, Amer. Midland Naturalist, 96, 367–378, 1976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ehrenreich, J. H., and J. M. Aikman, An ecological study of the effect of certain management practices on native prairie in Iowa, Ecol. Monographs, 33, 113–130, 1963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Frank, A. B., and L. Hofmann, Grazing management, growing degree-days, and morphological development for native grasses on the northern Great Plains, J. Range Management, 42,199–202, 1989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fuhlendorf, S. D., and F. E. Smeins, Long-term vegetation dynamics mediated by herbivores, weather and fire in a Juniperus-Quercus savanna, J. Veg. Science, 8, 819–828, 1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fuhlendorf, S. D., D. D. Briske, and F.E. Smeins, Herbaceous vegetation change in variable rangeland environments: The relative contribution of grazing and climatic variability, Appl. J. Veg. Science, 4, 177–188, 2001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gitelson, A. A., M. N. Merzlyak, O. B. Chivkunova, Optical properties and nondestructive estimation of anthocyanin content in plant leaves, Photochemistry and Photobiology, 74, 38–45, 2001.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gitelson, A. A., Y. J. Kaufman, R. Stark, and D. Rundquist, Novel algorithms for remote estimation of vegetation fraction, Remote Sens. Environ., 80, 76–87, 2002a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gitelson, A. A., Y. Zur, O. B. Chivkunova, and M.N. Merzlyak, Assessing carotenoid content in plant leaves with reflectance spectroscopy, Photochemistry and Photobiology, 75, 272–281, 2002b.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Goodin, D. G., and G. M. Henebry, Monitoring ecological disturbance in tallgrass prairie using seasonal NDVI trajectories and a discriminant function mixture model, Remote Sens. Environ., 61, 270–278, 1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Goodin, D. G., P. A. Fay, and M. J. McHugh, Climate variability in tallgrass prairie at multiple time scales: Konza Prairie Biological Station, USA, in Climate Variability and Ecosystem Response, edited by D. E. Greenland, D. G. Goodin, and R. Smith, pp. 411–423, Oxford University Press, New York, 2003.Google Scholar
  31. Hayden, B. P., Regional climate and the distribution of tallgrass prairie, in Grassland Dynamics: Long-Term Ecological Research in Tallgrass Prairie, edited by A. K. Knapp, D. C. Hartnett, J. M. Briggs, and S. Collins, pp. 19–34, Oxford University Press, New York, 1998.Google Scholar
  32. Heide, O. M., Control of flowering and reproduction in temperate grasses, New Phytologist, 128, 347–362, 1994.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Henderson, R. A., D. L. Lovell, and E. A. Howell, The flowering responses of 7 grasses to seasonal timing of prescribed burns in remnant Wisconsin prairie, in Proceedings of the Eighth North American Prairie Conference, edited by R. Brewer, pp. 7–10, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, 1983.Google Scholar
  34. Henebry, G. M., and D. G. Goodin, Landscape trajectory analysis: toward spatio-temporal models of biogeophysical fields for ecological forecasting, in Workshop on Spatio-temporal Data Models of Biogeophysical Fields for Ecological Forecasting: April 8–10, 2002, San Diego Supercomputer Center, La Jolla, California, edited by G. M. Henebry, pp. 9–13, CALMIT, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, 2002.Google Scholar
  35. Hover, E. I. and T. B. Bragg, Effect of season of burning and mowing on an eastern Nebraska Stipa-Andropogon prairie, Amer. Midland Naturalist, 105, 13–18, 1981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hulbert, L. C., and J. K. Wilson, Fire interval effects on flowering of grasses in Kansas Bluestem Prairie, in Proceedings of the Seventh North American Prairie Conference; 1980 August 4–6; Springfield, MO, edited by C. L. Kucera, pp. 255–257, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, 1983.Google Scholar
  37. Inouye, D. W., The ecological and evolutionary significance of frost in the context of climate change, Ecol. Letters, 3, 457–463, 2000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jackson, M., Effects of microclimate on spring flowering phenology, Ecology, 47, 407–415, 1966.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Joern, A., and K. H. Keeler, Getting the lay of the land: Introducing North American native grasslands, in The Changing Prairie, edited by A. Joern and K. H. Keeler, pp. 11–24, Oxford University Press, New York, 1995.Google Scholar
  40. Kebart, K. K., and R. C. Anderson, Phenological and climatic patterns in three tallgrass prairies, Southwestern Naturalist, 32, 29–37, 1987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Knapp, A. K., Post-burn differences in solar radiation, leaf temperature and water stress influencing production in a lowland tallgrass prairie, American Journal of Botany, 71, 220–227, 1984a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Knapp, A. K., Water relations and growth of three grasses during wet and drought years in tallgrass prairie, Oecologia, 65, 35–43, 1984b.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Knapp, A. K., Early season production and microclimate associated with topography in a C4 dominated grassland, Acta Oecologica/Oecologica Plantarum, 6, 3 7-346, 1985.Google Scholar
  44. Knapp, A. K., J. M. Briggs, J. M. Blair, and C. L. Turner, Patterns and controls of aboveground net primary production in tallgrass prairie, in Grassland Dynamics: Long-Term Ecological Research in Tallgrass Prairie edited by A. K. Knapp, D. C. Hartnett, J. M. Briggs, and S. Collins, pp. 193–221, Oxford University Press, New York, 1998.Google Scholar
  45. Knapp, A. K., and L. C. Hulbert, Production, density and height of flower stalks of three grasses in annually burned and unburned eastern Kansas tallgrass prairie: a four year record, Southwestern Naturalist, 31, 235–241, 1986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Knapp, A. K., and T. R. Seastedt. Detritus accumulation limits productivity of tallgrass prairie, BioScience, 36, 662–668, 1986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Knapp, A. K., and M. D. Smith, Variation among biomes in temporal dynamics of aboveground primary production, Science, 291, 481–484, 2001.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kucera, C. L., and J. H. Ehrenreich, Some effects of annual burning on central Missouri prairie, Ecology, 43, 334–336, 1962.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Leopold, A., and E. Jones, A phenological record for Sauk and Dane Counties, Wisconsin, 1935–1945, Ecol. Monographs, 17, 83–122, 1947.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. McMillan, C., Nature of the plant community. I. Uniform garden and light period studies of five grass taxa in Nebraska, Ecology, 37, 330–340, 1956a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. McMillan, C., Nature of the plant community, II. Variation in flowering behavior within populations of Andropogon scoparius, Ecology, 43, 429–436, 1956b.Google Scholar
  52. McMillan, C., Nature of the plant community. III. Flowering behavior within two grassland communities under reciprocal transplanting, Amer. J. Botany, 44, 144–153, 1957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. McMillan, C., Nature of the plant community. V. Variation within the true prairie community-type, Amer. J. Botany, 46, 418–424, 1959a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. McMillan, C., The role of ecotypic variation in the distribution of the central grassland of North America, Ecol. Monographs, 29, 285–308, 1959b.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. McMillan, C., Ecotypes and community function, Amer. Naturalist, 94, 245–255, 1960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Myneni, R. B., C. D. Keeling, C. J. Tucker, G. Asrar, R. R. Nemani, Increased plant growth in the northern high latitudes from 1981 to 1991. Nature, 386, 698–701,1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Old, S. M., Microclimate, fire, and plant production in an Illinois prairie, Ecol. Monographs, 39, 355–384, 1969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Olmsted, C. E., Growth and development in range grasses. III. Photoperiodic responses in the genus Bouteloua, Botanical Gazette, 105, 165–181, 1943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Olmsted, C. E., Growth and development in range grasses. IV. Photoperiodic responses in twelve geographic strains of side-oats gramma, Botanical Gazette, 106, 46–74, 1944.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Olmsted, C. E., Growth and development in range grasses. V. Photoperiodic responses of clonal divisions of three latitudinal strains of side-oats gramma, Botanical Gazette, 106, 382–401, 1945.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Parrish, J. A. D., and F. A. Bazzaz, Difference in pollination niche relationships in early and late successional plant communities, Ecology, 60, 597–610, 1979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Pemble, R. H., G. L. Van Amburg, and L. Mattson, Intraspecific variation in flowering activity following a spring burn on a Northwestern Minnesota prairie, Ohio Biological Survey Biological Notes, 15, 235–239, 1981.Google Scholar
  63. Petersen, N. J., The effects of fire, litter, and ash on flowering in Andropogon gerardii, in Proceedings of the Eighth North American Prairie Conference, 1982, Aug 1–4, Kalamazoo, Michigan, edited by R. Brewer, pp. 21–24, Western Michigan University, Department of Biology, Kalamazoo, MI, 1983.Google Scholar
  64. Rabinowitz, D., J. K. Rapp, V. L. Sork, B. J. Rathcke, G. A. Reese, and J. C. Weaver, Phenological properties of wind-and insect-pollinated prairie plants, Ecology, 62, 49–56, 1981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Rice, E. L., Growth and floral development of five species of range grass in central Oklahoma, Botanical Gazette, 111, 361–377, 1950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Schwartz, M. D., Advancing to full bloom: planning phenological research for the 21st century, Int. J. Biometeorol., 42, 113–118, 1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Schwartz, M. D. and G. A. Marotz, An approach to examining regional atmosphere-plant interaction with phenological data, J. Biogeography, 13, 551–560, 1986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Seastedt, T. R., Soil systems and nutrient cycles of the North American prairie, in The Changing Prairie, edited by A. Joern and K. H. Keeler, pp. 49–81, Oxford University Press, New York, 1995.Google Scholar
  69. Seastedt, T. R., J. M. Briggs, and D. J. Gibson, Controls of nitrogen limitation in tallgrass prairie, Oecologia, 87, 72–79, 1991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Seastedt, T. R., and A. K. Knapp, Consequences of non-equilibrium resource availability across multiple time scales: the transient maxima hypothesis, Amer. Naturalist, 141, 621–633, 1993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sims, P. L., Grasslands, in North American Terrestrial Vegetation, edited by M. G. Barbour, and W. D. Billings, pp. 265–286, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1988.Google Scholar
  72. Towne, E. G., Influence of fire frequency and burning date on the proportion of reproductive tillers in big bluestem and indiangrass, in Proceedings of the 14th Annual North American Prairie Conference, edited by D. C. Hartnett, pp. 75–78, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, 1995.Google Scholar
  73. Vinton, M. A., and D. C. Hartnett, Effects of bison grazing on Andropogon gerardii and Panicum virgatum in burned and unburned tallgrass prairie, Oecologia 90:374–382, 1992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Weaver, J. E., Prairie Plants and Their Environment: a Fifty-Year Study in the Midwest, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 276 pp., 1968.Google Scholar
  75. Withey, A., W. Michener, and P. Tooby, Scalable Information Networks for the Environment (SINE), Report of an NSF-sponsored workshop, San Diego Supercomputer Center, October 29–31, 2001.Google Scholar
  76. Zedler, J. B., and O. L. Loucks, Differential burning responses of Poa pratensis fields and Andropogon scoparius prairies in central Wisconsin, Amer. Midland Naturalist, 81, 341–352, 1969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies (CALMIT)School of Natural Resources, University of NebraskaLincolnUSA

Personalised recommendations