Grassland National Park in Saskatchewan
An undisturbed area that shows and protects the natural grassland
How humans have changed the scenery of grasslands.
The grasslands we know today as the Canadian prairies used to look different to the grasslands that the Aboriginals knew and lived in nature with. They have live in the grasslands thousands of years before the Europeans came without greatly changing the grasslands. Today, the grasslands have rural areas as well as urban area with roads and highways. When the Europeans came and began to settle, that’s when dramatic change began to occur. Did you know that there are less than 3% of the original grasslands left in Canada?
Some major changes to grasslands:
Some major changes to grasslands:
Urbanization causes loss of habitat in the ecosystems found in grasslands. The natural grasslands look very different from the urban cities with highways and roads, supplied with cars and airplanes and other things that constantly need fossil fuels and oil and gas. A harmful effect of a modern city is climate change, it is caused by gases that release carbon dioxide in our air which can destroy our ozone layer. Greenhouse gases also contribute to climate change. The holes in the ozone layer can cause ultraviolet radiation which can cause deformed frogs that become a natural parasite to the grasslands. Climate change also affects the other biomes; like the rapidly melting snow in the tundra. Climate change can also increase the temperature in grasslands and make it more vulnerable to droughts.
People are drawn towards the grasslands because of the oil resource and fossil fuels. It’s propelled by the constant need for gas and oil. People have built many machines that help dig out oil from the ground. This is very destructive to the animals because they lose their habitats and they are vulnerable to oil spills. It also releases toxic gases into the air.
Due to the very fertile soil in the grasslands, most of the area has been turned to a farmland used to grow crops like wheat and oats. The crops are not a natural vegetation to the grasslands. By growing non-native crops to the grassland, the native grasses decrease and there is very little biodiversity. Turning the land into strips of farm also causes loss of habitats to animals like the prairie dog who actually keeps the soil more fertile by fertilizing it with their feces and aerating the soil through digging. The grasslands are also used for cattle and livestock.
The bison is considered to be a keystone organism in the grasslands. Before the Europeans came, the bison population was in the 10 millions. By 1890, the population was down to the thousands. This was called the ‘Great Slaughter’. This is the time when the Europeans came with their horses and hunted the bison for their meat and fur, using their rifles. This affected not only the Aboriginals but also the land because the bison shape most of the grassland by their grazing pressure which caused fires that kept the shape of the grasslands. Without the bison, the Europeans were able to build railroad that lead to the west. Due to conservation efforts, today, there about 3000 wood bison that have been released back to their natural habitat. The plains bison have a stable population and is in the conservation dependent status.
Page 1 of 3