Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9 (Fall 1999. Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


The Great Plains consisted of several million square kilometers of native perennial grasslands in the middle of the nineteenth century. Most is still grassland, but on more than half the area native perennials have been replaced by single species annuals harvested for grain. For many of us who live and work in the region, the term grassland is reserved for native perennial grasslands, one of the elements of the current mosaic of land cover types that comprise the contemporary Great Plains. This is a narrow definition of grassland and only a small part of what L. R. Humphreys is referring to when he uses the term in The Evolving Science of Grassland Improvement.