Joseph Craine is a research assistant professor at Kansas State University. Joe Fargione is lead scientist for the North America region at The Nature Conservancy.
Half the United States is currently gripped by drought. And our grasslands are taking a beating. But how grasslands have historically coped with the kinds of extreme drought we’re seeing today has always been a bit of a mystery — until now.
A new study we co-authored for Nature Climate Change took on this question by gathering more than 400 species of grass from around the world and subjecting them to drought. The results — along with clues gathered way back during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s — explain why grasslands like The Nature Conservancy’s Konza Prairie in Kansas can make it through a drought like this…but your lawn probably can’t.
Hidden Lessons in the Great Drought of the 1930s
To understand the depth of this problem, though, you have to step back to the research of John Weaver, a professor from the University of Nebraska whom some consider the father of grassland ecology in North America. Weaver’s careful observation of the grasslands of Nebraska and Kansas before, during, and after the ...
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The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.