Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published in Ecology, Vol. 23, No. 3 (July 1942), pp. 275-294. Copyright 1942 Ecological Society of America. Used by permission.


An extensive survey of the degree of deterioration of midwestern ranges was made in 1939 (Weaver and Albertson, '40). Decreases in the basal cover of the grasses from extreme drought, overstocking, and damage by dust were appalling. Basal cover of the native grass had decreased to 1 percent in one-fourth of the ranges examined and it was 21 percent or more in only 16 percent. Little, if any, improvement occurred during the following year; instead certain large areas suffered distinct losses as a result of severe late summer drought. The perennial grasses over large areas in southwestern Kansas, for example, had been reduced to a basal cover of about 3 percent in 1937. The cover improved slightly during the two following years, but was reduced to less than 0.5 percent during the very dry fall of 1939 (Albertson, '41). On some of the better ranges near Syracuse, where the basal cover was about 15 per cent, scarcely a spear of grass remained (figs. 1, 2 and 3).