The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States

Author: Chris Helzer

Beautiful photographs illustrate this informative ecology manual. Helzer explores the complexities and challenges of prairie management in the modern age.

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Author: Chris Helzer

Beautiful photographs illustrate this informative ecology manual. Helzer explores the complexities and challenges of prairie management in the modern age.

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Data sheet

Author Chris Helzer
Page count 208
ISBN 978-158729-865-3
Copyright date May 2009
Publisher University of Iowa Press
Edition First Edition

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Chris Helzer is a well-known ecologist with The Nature Conservancy and professional nature photographer. He has created a book which is both informative and eye-catching.
As the title suggests, this book is about the ecology and management of prairies, which in this day-and-age, really go hand-in-hand. Mr. Helzer does a great job of touching on a variety of topics such as the roles of predators and parasites in regulating the prairie community, discussing how different plants reproduce and spread, and covering many more subjects. It also gives you a real understanding of the work thats involved in managing prairies in our modern landscape, and how conservationists are working to identify, restore and manage the little bits of prairie we have left.
If I had to find a criticism for this book, it would be that its focus is on prairies of the great plains isn’t entirely “on message” with how we manage prairies east of the Mississippi. For example, there is substantial coverage of managing prairies with cattle grazing on units dozens or hundreds of acres in size, which is not really relevant to our smaller and more delicate “postage stamp” prairies.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a more detailed understanding of prairies, whether you’re planting one yourself or simply want to learn more about our natural world. It's not a “how to” guide, but instead gives an overview of the conservation of prairies presented in a beautifully illustrated book.
From The Publisher:
Most prairies exist today as fragmented landscapes, making thoughtful and vigilant management ever more important. Intended for landowners and managers dedicated to understanding and nurturing their prairies as well as farmers, ranchers, conservationists, and all those with a strong interest in grasslands. Ecologist Chris Helzer’s readable and practical manual educates prairie owners and managers about grassland ecology and gives them guidelines for keeping prairies diverse, vigorous, and viable.

Chapters in the first section, "Prairie Ecology," describe prairie plants and the communities they live in, the ways in which disturbance modifies plant communities, the animal and plant inhabitants that are key to prairie survival, and the importance of diversity within plant and animal communities. Chapters in the second section, "Prairie Management," explores the adaptive management process as well as guiding principles for designing management strategies, examples of successful management systems such as fire and grazing, guidance for dealing with birds. other species that have particular habitat requirements and with invasive species that have become the most serious threat prairie managers have to deal with, and general techniques for prairie restoration. Following the conclusion and a forward-thinking note on climate change, eight appendices provide more information on grazing, prescribed fire, and invasive species as well as bibliographic notes, references, and national and state organizations with expertise in prairie management.

Grasslands can be found throughout much of North America, and the ideas and strategies in this book apply to most of them, particularly tallgrass and mixed grass prairies in eastern North Dakota, eastern South Dakota, eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, eastern Oklahoma, northwestern Missouri, northern Illinois, northwestern Indiana, Iowa, southwestern Wisconsin, and southwestern Minnesota. By presenting all the factors that promote biological diversity and thus enhance prairie communities, then incorporating these factors into a set of clear-sighted management practices, The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States presents the tools necessary to ensure that grasslands are managed in the purposeful ways essential to the continued health and survival of prairie communities.

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