Contents: Section I. The Great Plains Landscape as Vertebrate Habitats.- Landscape Gradients and Habitat Structure in Native Grasslands of the Central Great Plains.- Wetlands of the Great Plains--Habitat Characteristics and Vertebrate Aggregations.- Management and Cottonwood Forest Dynamics Along Prairie Streams.- Comparative Ecology of Native and Introduced Ungulates. Section II. The Ecology of Vertebrate Assemblages Within Grassland Landscapes.- Historical Changes in the Landscape and Vertebrate Diversity of North Central Nebraska.- Ecology of Fishes Indigenous to the Central and Southwestern Great Plains.- Avian Community Responses to Fire, Grazing, and Drought in the Tallgrass Prairie.- Effects of Fire on Bird Populations in Mixed-Grass Prairie.- of Small Mammals in Prairie Landscapes.- Stopover Ecology of Transitory Populations: The Case of Migrant Shorebirds. Section III. Conclusion.- Conservation of Grassland Vertebrates.
The frontier images of America embrace endless horizons, majestic herds of native ungulates, and romanticized life-styles of nomadie peoples. The images were mere reflections of vertebrates living in harmony in an ecosystem driven by the unpre dictable local and regional effects of drought, frre, and grazing. Those effects, often referred to as ecological "disturbanees," are rather the driving forces on which species depended to create the spatial and temporal heterogeneity that favored ecological prerequisites for survival. Alandscape viewed by European descendants as monotony interrupted only by extremes in weather and commonly referred to as the "Great American Desert," this country was to be rushed through and cursed, a barrier that hindered access to the deep soils of the Oregon country, the rich minerals of California and Colorado, and the religious freedom sought in Utah. Those who stayed (for lack of resources or stamina) spent a century trying to moderate the ecological dynamics of Great Plains prairies by suppressing fires, planting trees and exotic grasses, poisoning rodents, diverting waters, and homogenizing the dynamies of grazing with endless fences-all creating bound an otherwise boundless vista. aries in Historically, travelers and settlers referred to the area of tallgrasses along the western edge of the deciduous forest and extending midway across Kansas as the "True Prairie. " The grasses thlnned and became shorter to the west, an area known then as the Great Plains.
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