Grassland | Plains Animals
Plains animals refer to the small but unique set of animals that inhabit the Great Plains regions of North America. Living within this diverse ecosystem that faces difficult natural conditions including limited rainfall and harsh winters and summers, plains animals have uniquely adapted to survive by roaming the prairie grasslands and hillsides. Today, plains animals are increasingly threatened by resource extraction and fragmentation which has led to calls for preservation and restoration of the region. Plains animals include a broad variety of species from the iconic bison to ferrets, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and grazing animals.
Grazing animals help grasslands by maintaining the ecosystem as well as stimulating plants for new growth. The constant grazing of these animals helps trigger biological activity while promoting nutrient exchanges. Grazing animals also help compact soil with their hooves as well as open new areas for seeds to spread.
Grazing animals are called ruminants as they eat by looking for forage, selecting the grass, and then grabbing and eating the forage with their mouth. Ruminants stand out from other animals as the way that they grasp and ingest food is different. Grazing animals also move differently in new pastures than other animals.
Animals adapt to the grasslands through multiple factors as they have to withstand the challenges of the grasslands. Animals adapt to the grasslands by being fast and agile as well as carrying out nesting behavior adequate for their environment. Grassland animals typically embrace camouflage to blend, have a structured social system, and burrowing behavior.