Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2000


Published in Great Plains Research 10 (Spring 2000): 107-25. Copyright © 2000 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Past conditions in North American prairies have left behind animals and plants whose features were shaped by interactions, some of which no longer exist. For example, pronghorns are fast runners but there are now no fast predators to chase them. Similarly, bison activity structured grasslands, but few prairie reserves now have bison. Here I draw attention to possible cases where ecological patterns are best explained by conditions not present in the modern prairie and propose that such outcomes may be more important than presently thought. My aim is to stimulate a reevaluation of prairie organisms and the effect of their interactions in light of this hypothesis.