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.

  • 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. […]

  • US grasslands affected more by atmospheric dryness than precipitation
    on March 7, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    According to 33 years of remote sensing data, productivity of US grasslands is more sensitive to dryness of the atmosphere than precipitation, important information for understanding how ecosystems will respond to climate change. […]

  • Why nature restoration takes time
    on February 8, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    'Relationships' in the soil become stronger during nature restoration. Although all major groups of soil life are already present in former agricultural soils, they are not really 'connected'. These connections need time to (literally) grow, and fungi are the star performers. A European research team has shown the complete network of soil life for the first time. […]

  • LED lighting could have major impact on wildlife
    on February 6, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    LED street lighting can be tailored to reduce its impacts on the environment, according to new research. […]

  • Researcher studies increased predation of sagebrush songbirds in natural gas fields
    on December 15, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    While such development has encroached on and hindered nesting habitat for three types of sagebrush-obligate birds, predation of these birds has increased because rodent populations in the vicinity of oil and gas wells have increased. […]

  • More frequent, more intense and longer-lasting storms cause heavier spring rain in central US
    on December 1, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    Intense storms have become more frequent and longer-lasting in the Great Plains and Midwest in the last 35 years. What has fueled these storms? The temperature difference between the Southern Great Plains and the Atlantic Ocean produces winds that carry moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Plains, according to a recent study. […]

  • 6,000 years ago the Sahara Desert was tropical, so what happened?
    on November 30, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    As little as 6,000 years ago, the vast Sahara Desert was covered in grassland that received plenty of rainfall, but shifts in the world's weather patterns abruptly transformed the vegetated region into some of the driest land on Earth. Now a researcher is trying to uncover the clues responsible for this enormous climate transformation -- and the findings could lead to better rainfall predictions worldwide. […]

  • Intensification of land use leads to the same species everywhere
    on November 30, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    In places where humans use grasslands more intensively, it is not only the species diversity that decreases -- the landscape also becomes more monotonous, and ultimately only the same species remain everywhere. This results in nature no longer being able to provide its 'services', which range from soil formation for food production to pest control. 300 scientists have now studied the consequences of land-use intensification across different species groups at the landscape level for the very first time. […]

  • Bioenergy grass can withstand freezing temperatures
    on November 29, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    Prairie cordgrass, a native perennial grass used for biomass energy, is tolerant to salt, flooding, and freezing stress. A new study demonstrates the gene expression patterns responsible for freezing tolerance in prairie cordgrass. Once the genes responsible for freezing tolerance are identified in prairie cordgrass, they may be applied to other crops in the future. […]

  • Researchers study how reflectivity of biofuel crops impacts climate
    on November 21, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Researchers have conducted a detailed study of the albedo (reflectivity) effects of converting land to grow biofuel crops. Based on changes in albedo alone, their findings reveal that greenhouse gas emissions in land use change scenarios represent a net warming effect for ethanol made from miscanthus grass and switchgrass, but a net cooling effect for ethanol made from corn. […]

  • Colorado River's dead clams tell tales of carbon emission
    on October 28, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Scientists have begun to account for the topsy-turvy carbon cycle of the Colorado River delta – once a massive green estuary of grassland, marshes and cottonwood, now desiccated dead land. […]

  • Predicting climate impacts on ecosystems will require scientists to widen the lens
    on October 24, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Scholars are making the case that overly simplistic studies on the climate impacts on ecosystems avoid the inherent complexity and interconnectedness of natural systems — and thus yield erroneous climate predictions. […]

  • Ancient global cooling gave rise to modern ecosystems
    on September 30, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Sea surface temperatures dipped dramatically during a period from 7 million to 5.4 million years ago, a time of massive global ecological change, scientists have discovered. […]

  • Antibiotic resistance can occur naturally in soil bacteria
    on September 27, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    Scientists have found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in prairie soils that had little or no exposure to human or animal activity. […]