Disturbances and their Affects on the Prairie
Prairies are large areas of grassland, that can support large population of mammals, once being primarily buffalo, and now more like sheep and cattle. But, the question remains; why, if the prairie can support large crops, grass, and animals eating those crops and grasses, why won’t trees thrive in the prairie? Or shrubs? The prairie keeps itself a grassland by, what? Disturbances, like fire. Fire, wipes out the slow growing shrubs, allowing fresh, new grass, fertilized by all the ash, to come up and grow, continuing to support large herds of animals. Without the prairie catching on fire every two or three years, the amount of dead grass that failed to decompose over the winter, on top of all the shrubs and possibly trees would grow, blocking the sunlight from the soil and killing much of the grass, would starve the mammal population of millions of mammals, such as buffalo, sheep and cattle, and other species, as well as drive out the prairie dogs and other species that have adapted themselves to prairie life.