Konza Prairie a Tallgrass Natural History

TitleKonza Prairie a Tallgrass Natural History
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1987
AuthorsReichman, OJ
Number of Pages248 -248
PublisherUniversity of Kansas Press
CityLawerence, KS
Accession NumberKNZ00155

Just to the south of Manhattan, across the Kaw River and bordering much of K-177 on the west, lies the largest tract of tall grass prairie remaining in North America, nearly 9,000 integral acres that constitute perhaps the world's best on-going scientific research area for this unique, once-vast national resource. Slightly over a century ago, the tall grass prairie stretched over most of what is now Iowa, Illinois, southern Minnesota, northern Missouri, and the edges of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Today only a minuscule fraction remains. Prairies tend to occur in the interior of large continental land masses. Those processes that generate the growth patterns leading to development of tall grass prairies are carefully explained, illustrating the relationship between the sparse rainfall areas of the west and the smothering effects of the deciduous forests along the most eastern flank. The very conditions that promoted the development of the tall grass prairie, that is, good soil and adequate moisture, have also led to their destruction. As land hungry homesteaders moved west during the 19th century, most of the tall grass prairies were plowed under for farmland. However, that portion of the prairie that lies in the Flint Hills region was unlderlain by limestone ledges. Their thin, shallow, rocky soils made tillage impossible, so that it was cattle that soon replaced the nearly destroyed herds of bison. This book is just not about our large neighbor to the south, but also about grassland ecology in a universal sense and is highly recommended for anyone interested in learning of the history of this vanishing resource, as well as about the on-going research that examines how the ecological system functions and contributes to our total understanding of our universe