Wetlands & Grasslands


Wetlands & Grasslands

Globally, grasslands are the most human-altered biome with the highest risk of biome extinction. Only 18% of the grassland in the USPPR is protected (as of 2006), which equates to just 5% of historic grass area. Additionally, only 34%of the wetlands, which are sprinkled throughout these grasslands, in the U.S. PPR are protected (as of 2006).

The rich soils of grassland areas make them attractive for agricultural production. Consequently, the PPR is one of the most productive agricultural regions of the world. Ongoing conversion will likely impact wildlife as research suggests most grassland species do poorly on cropland relative to undisturbed land. Additionally, crop types are changing across the PPR, along with more intensive cropping systems and expansion into areas previously considered unfit for row crop production.

Demand for biofuels adds to the pressure for conversion of grasslands to cropland. In addition, oil and gas development is growing rapidly in portions of the PPR while ever expanding wind energy development also has large potential to impact the PPR. Even though research specific to the impacts in the PPR is just beginning, research elsewhere suggests there will be negative impacts on wildlife under expanding energy development.