Grasslands

Grassland News -- ScienceDaily Grassland biome. Read all the latest scientific research on the grassland biome, including articles on grassland animals and the effect of global warming on the grasslands.

  • Slight climate shifts can affect optimum water use in plant communities
    on November 20, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    A new discovery is providing scientists a better understanding of how rainfall is shared beneficially by the plant community and the human population, in addition to the effects of climate change. […]

  • Additional hurdle to widespread planting of bioenergy crops identified
    on November 2, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    A study examining how certain decisions impact what farmers plant and harvest identified one crucial factor that researchers believe needs to be added to the list of decision variables when considering bioenergy crops: the option value. […]

  • Cover crops provide bed and breakfast layover for migrating birds
    on October 30, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    After harvesting a corn or soybean crop, farmers may plant a cover crop for a variety of reasons -- to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff, increase organic matter in the soil, and improve water quality. Now there's another reason. New research shows that migratory birds prefer to rest and refuel in fields with cover crops. […]

  • Shallow soils promote savannas in South America
    on October 23, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    The boundary between South American tropical rainforests and savannas is influenced by the depth to which plants can root, research indicates. Shallow rooting depth promotes the establishment of savannas. Previous research has shown that precipitation and fire mediate tropical forest and savanna distributions. The study shows that below ground conditions need to be considered to understand the distribution of terrestrial vegetation both historically and in the face of future climate change. The study is based on computer vegetation models. […]

  • Livestock grazing management compatible with nesting greater sage-grouse
    on October 12, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    A new study looks at whether management of livestock grazing may help protect sagebrush and birds that depend on it. […]

  • Climate change predicted to reduce size, stature of dominant Midwest plant, study finds
    on October 11, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Researchers are involved in a study that found climate change may reduce the growth and stature of big bluestem -- a dominant prairie grass and a major forage grass for cattle. […]

  • Grassland sparrows constantly searching for a nicer home
    on October 11, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Some birds regularly move to new territories between years, depending on factors including habitat quality and the presence of predators, but what about within a single breeding season? Grassland ecosystems are particularly dynamic, continuously shaped by fire and grazing, and a new study confirms that one particular grassland bird moves frequently each summer in search of the best territories. For grasshopper sparrows, the grass really does look greener on the other side. […]

  • Grazing horses on better pastures
    on October 11, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Horses in less temperate zones may get some extra grazing. A new study shows warm-season annual grasses have good potential for use in horse pastures. […]

  • Forest grazing counteracts the effectiveness of trees to reduce flood risk
    on October 10, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Planting trees can reduce flood risk, but a high intensity forest land use, such as grazing, can counteract the positive effect of the trees, a recently published study suggests. The study investigated the rate that water infiltrated the soil under trees at an experimental agroforestry site in Scotland. […]

  • Study finds no-tillage not sufficient alone to prevent water pollution from nitrate
    on September 22, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    A new study answers a long-debated agricultural question: whether no-tillage alone is sufficient to prevent water pollution from nitrate. The answer is no. […]

  • Ozark grasslands experience major increase in trees and shrubs
    on September 21, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Woody vegetation, such as trees and shrubs, has increased dramatically in Ozark grasslands over the past 75 years, according to a study. If these ecosystems continue to favor woody vegetation, will it be possible to maintain open grasslands for the foreseeable future? […]

  • A study switches from genetic to metabolic analysis to reconstitute evolutionary process
    on September 19, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    A new method for analyzing a living being chemical compositions is tested in Andean plants and attest the genesis of species by means of geographic isolation. Scientists analyzed chemical compounds which express specific biogeographic trends in the evolutionary process, validating a Smithsonian hypothesis on the evolution of the genus Espeletia in the process. […]

  • Some birds better than others at adjusting to habitat degradation
    on August 30, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Before habitat degradation begins to cause population declines, the first response by wildlife usually comes in the form of behavioral changes -- for example, switching their diets in response to changes in food availability. A new study looks at the diets of seed-eating birds in a South American desert and finds that while some can switch between seed types when grazing alters local plant communities, others continue to stick to old favorites, limiting their options. […]

  • The key to drought-tolerant crops may be in the leaves
    on August 15, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Scientists are exploring how to generate plants that are more drought-resistant as the water supplies decline in major agricultural states. […]

  • Prairie-chicken nests appear unaffected by wind energy facility
    on August 9, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Wind energy development in the Great Plains is increasing, spurring concern about its potential effects on grassland birds, the most rapidly declining avian group in North America. However, a new study suggests that for one grassland bird species of concern -- the greater prairie-chicken -- wind energy infrastructure has little to no effect on nesting. Instead, roads and livestock grazing remain the most significant threats to its successful reproduction. […]

  • Climate change may confuse plant dormancy cycles
    on August 8, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Perennial plants in the Midwest are well attuned to their surroundings. They hunker down all winter in a dormant state, just waiting for a sign that it’s safe to unfurl their first tender leaves or flower buds. For many plants, the cue is a sustained warming trend, but day length also factors into the dormancy equation. […]

  • Afforestation with non-native trees alters island soils
    on August 7, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    A healthy global debate has occurred concerning the benefits of using non-native trees for restoring some aspects of ecosystem function in degraded habitats. In many cases, the stresses associated with establishing seedlings disallow most native tree species from becoming successfully established in harsh planting sites. The tolerant non-native trees enable successes that would otherwise be unachievable. […]

  • Greatest threat to Eastern forest birds is habitat loss on wintering grounds
    on July 24, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Human-caused habitat loss looms as the greatest threat to some North American breeding birds. The problem will be most severe on their wintering grounds, according to a new study. […]

  • Unlocking the secrets of the Sahara
    on July 7, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    A peat bog in Romania provides a new insight into our knowledge of when the Sahara began to transform from grassland into the desert we know today, and the impact this had on dust deposition within Eastern Europe. […]

  • NASA detects drop in global fires
    on June 29, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    The ongoing transition from nomadic cultures to settled lifestyles and intensifying agriculture has led to a steep drop not only in the use of fire on local lands, but in the prevalence of fire worldwide, researchers found. […]

  • Calculating 'old' and 'new' water runoff
    on June 28, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Researchers use math and on-the-ground analyses to the follow water held in the soil versus fresh rainfalls. This can improve water management in drought- and flood-affected areas. […]

  • How grassland management without the loss of species works
    on June 27, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    The intensive management of grasslands is bad for biodiversity. However, a new study has brought a ray of hope: If different forms of management are optimally distributed within a region, this can lead to higher yields without the loss of insect species. In ideal cases, this will allow even more species to find habitats that are optimal for them. What is crucial here is that management is planned at the landscape level. […]

  • Animals, not drought, shaped our ancestors' environment
    on June 26, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    The expansion of grasslands isn't solely due to drought, but more complex climate factors are at work, both for modern Africans now and ancient Africans in the Pleistocene, suggests new research. […]

  • Promising peas' potential in big sky country
    on June 14, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Changing over from all wheat to wheat-pea rotations can be uncertain. To help, researchers have been studying how pea genetics interact with the environment to affect crop yields, pea protein and starch content for market demands. […]

  • Camelina: Where you grow what you grow
    on May 24, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    A new study looks at how three varieties of camelina perform when grown in two different regions within the Great Plains. The end goal is to find the camelina variety that performs best in each location or environment -- beyond the genetics involved. […]

  • Why did hunter-gatherers first begin farming?
    on May 16, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    The beginnings of agriculture changed human history and has fascinated scientists for centuries. Researchers have now shed light on how hunter-gatherers first began farming and how crops were domesticated to depend on humans. […]

  • Rising temperatures threaten stability of Tibetan alpine grasslands
    on May 10, 2017 at 11:55 am

    A warming climate could affect the stability of alpine grasslands in Asia's Tibetan Plateau, threatening the ability of farmers and herders to maintain the animals that are key to their existence, and potentially upsetting the ecology of an area in which important regional river systems originate, says a new study. […]

  • Grasslands' carbon storage value now quantified
    on April 19, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Grasslands that feature diverse plant species have more carbon storage capacity than less-diverse grasslands, largely because the former produce more biomass, the researchers say. They found that increasing the number of plant species from one to 10 had twice the value of increasing from one to two species, from the standpoint of carbon storage capacity. […]

  • Making cows more environmentally friendly
    on March 29, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    An important discovery surrounding plants used to feed livestock has been released by scientists. They report that plants growing in warmer conditions are tougher and have lower nutritional value to grazing livestock, potentially inhibiting milk and meat yields and raising the amount of methane released by the animals. […]

  • Spiders eat astronomical numbers of insects
    on March 14, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    A new study reveals some stunning estimates about how much the world's spiders eat annually: between 400 and 800 million tons of insects and other invertebrates. These eight-legged carnivores play an important role to keep countless insect pests in check. […]