Later, well after the rising sun finally chases shadows from the broad land's folds and creases--when rising heat waves shimmer white above the shortgrass
prairie--will the daily parade to life-sustaining water begin: timid cottontails, flitting ground larks, long-eared jackass rabbits, skittish prairie dogs, ungainly sage grouse, and--if I'm patient and lucky I small bands of thirsty pronghorn antelope.
Vegetation on the mesa consists of shortgrass
and midgrass prairie with pinon pine (Pinus edulis) and one-seeded juniper (Juniperus monosperma) on breaks (Rogers 1953).
In these game preserves, the feeding activities of elephants and rhinos change wooded savanna to open, shortgrass
situations, which are dominated by rapidly reproducing plants that provide for other herbivores in the community.
Ninety-nine percent of the nation's tallgrass prairies and 70 percent of the mixed grass and shortgrass
prairies in some states have disappeared.
As the expanding market economy sheared hinterlands away from the gateway city that had helped create them, Nature's Metropolis and the Great West both passed into oblivion, joining the ghost landscapes of tallgrass prairie, white pine forest, and shortgrass
bison range as past places no longer a part of a living memory.
Though cattle seem to prefer prairie dog towns in mixed-grass prairies, work by one of Detling's former graduate students, Debra Guenther, shows that in shortgrass
prairies cows neither prefer nor avoid prairie dog towns.
Comprised of tall grass, mixed grass, and shortgrass
communities, the acreage this ecosystem once covered is incredible 400 million acres (pre-settlement times), accounting for 40% of North America's landscape.
Small scale disturbances and successional dynamics in a shortgrass
plant community: interactions of disturbance characteristics.
A recent test of commonly used rangeland sampling techniques (e.g., point-transects, Parker 1951; quadrat methods, Daubenmire 1959), revealed that small quadrats and linear techniques failed to capture about half the native and exotic plant species in tallgrass prairie, shortgrass
steppe, northern mixed prairie, and mixed grasslands (Stohlgren et al.
The ecological effects of the western harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex oxidentalis) in a shortgrass
Bureau of Soils in 1909--as if to excuse in advance the wave of "sodbusting" that, over the following 20 years, would turn the shortgrass
prairie into an interlocking grid of cash-cropped commercial farms.
But while we may know something of the Midwest's "tallgrass" regions, we may not be as aware of the West's own shortgrass
and mixed grass prairies.