Declining Grassland Birds
Product Type:Book, Pages in
Suggested Citation:Knopf, F.L. 1995. Declining Grassland Birds. In: Our Living Resources: A report to the nation on the distribution, abundance, and health of U.S. plants, animals, and ecosystems. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Geological Survey. 296-298.
Native grasslands represent the largest vegetative province of North America. Almost 1.5 million km2 (0.6 million mi2) of grasslands historically occurred on the Great Plains. Although the Great Plains played a major role in the evolution of North American forest birds (Mengel 1970), the grassland avifauna itself is relatively poor with only 5% of all North American bird species believed to have evolved within the Great Plains. That group included 12 species of birds that are considered endemic (i.e., evolved specifically within) to the grasslands, along with 20 others that have centers of evolution on the grasslands but range more widely into contiguous vegetative provinces.