The Prairie

The Prairie

The Prairie Ecozone Glossary Words! Potholes Slough Drought Badlands Grasslands Shelterbelt Windbreak Chinook Landscape The Prairie land is very

distinct From above, the land appears flat. However, a closer view reveals depressions in the soil (potholes) that are left behind by glaciers. Many depressions have become wetlands which support a variety of plant life and wildlife Landscape Other aspects of the

Prairie landscape include: River valleys Hills and eroded badlands (an unusual landscape created by the erosion of soft sedimentary rock.) Gently rolling grasslands A mixture of different grasslands Impressions of the Prairie Ecozone (p128)

Landscape The Prairies are a continental climate. This is because: They are located in the centre of the continent. The Rocky Mountains to the west act as barriers against rain bearing winds. Dry arctic masses move in from the north, making the winters long and cold.

They are far from the moderating effects of bodies of water. Vegetation Wet and rich nutrient filled areas give way to fertile soil Tall grasses grow in wet areas, while shorter grasses grow in drier areas. Drought resistant plants such as sagebrush and

short grasses grown in drier areas. 90% of the Prairie landscape is used for agriculture. Disappearing Grasslands Less that half of the prairie's original wetlands, potholes and sloughs remain. Many have been drained and cleared for farming and urban development. This development has led to the

disappearance of many of the wildlife in the area. Human activities, such a building dams for irrigation, hydroelectricity and flood control, have forever changed the river systems of the prairies. Grasslands (p.134) Wildlife Plain bison were once plentiful in the prairie ecozone.

Overhunting in the late 1800s drastically decreased their numbers, virtually wiping them out Today, plain bison are protected in national parks, where their numbers are growing Wildlife An abnormally large number of animals have disappeared from this ecozone. Many are

extinct, extirpated, endangered or threatened because of habitat loss. This includes: The grizzly bear (disappeared from area) The swift fox (disappeared from area) The peregrine falcon (endangered in the area) Whooping crane (endangered in the area) Humans

The gently rolling land of the prairies is suitable for food production The grasslands have fertile soil and a long enough growing season for a variety of crops. The rivers can be dammed for irrigation and hydroelectricity Oil and gas deposits in sedimentary rock are excellent for the mining industries.

Threats Modern farmers have almost wiped out keystone species in the area (swift fox, prairie dogs) much like early settlers almost wiped out the bison population. Extensive agriculture uses land and destroys wildlife habitats Farming overworks the soil and reduces nutrients Wastes from farms and

urban areas pollutes the waters. Threats Oil and gas development creates pollution and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, which eventually changes the climate. Dams and reservoirs built for power, flood control and irrigation alter rivers and wildlife habitats.

Conservation efforts and government regulations aim to restore some wildlife and grasslands.

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