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The health and future of the earth's ecological systems (Dailey and Ehrlich 1992), their link to the well being of communities and nations (Raven 19901, and the ever-increasing rate of loss of species, communities, and ecological systems (Myers 1993) are among issues drawing biological diversity into the mainstream of conservation worldwide. Yet. in North America, there is no single, established priority in the conservation of biological diversity. In recent years, a great deal of attention has been paid to the problem of tropical and temperate deforestation in part because of profound consequences to the conservation of biological diversity (Harris 1984, Whitmore and Saver 1992.). Despite a broad consensus supporting the conservation of biological diversity (CEQ 1991), native prairie is largely neglected in this effort. This article suggests why native prairie in North America should be among the priorities in conservation of biological diversity. We further describe the extent and cause of the decline of North American prairie and offer recommendations for prairie conservation.