Forgotten Grasslands of the South
Natural History and Conservation
The author examines
- the natural history of southern grasslands
- their origin and history (geologic, vegetation, and human)
- biological hotspots and endangered ecosystems
- physical determinants of grassland distribution, including ecology, soils, landform, and hydrology fire, herbivores, and ecological interactions.
The final chapter presents a general conservation strategy for southern grasslands, including prioritization, protection, restoration, and management. Also included are examples of ongoing restoration projects, along with a prognosis for the future.
In addition to offering fascinating new information about these little-studied ecosystems, Noss demonstrates how natural history is central to the practice of conservation. Natural history has been on a declining trajectory for decades, as theory and experimentation have dominated the field of ecology. Ecologists are coming to realize that these divergent approaches are in fact complementary, and that pursuing them together can bring greater knowledge and understanding of how the natural world works and how we can best conserve it.
Forgotten Grasslands of the South explores the overarching importance of ecological processes in maintaining healthy ecosystems, and is the first book of its kind to apply natural history, in a modern, comprehensive sense, to the conservation of biodiversity across a broad region. It sets a new standard for scientific literature and is essential reading not only for those who study and work to conserve the grasslands of the South but also for everyone who is fascinated by the natural world.
List of Tables
Foreword by Edward O. Wilson
Chapter 1: Natural History of a Forgotten American Grassland
Natural History for Conservation
Grasslands in the South?
What and Where are Southern Grasslands?
The Grasslands Considered in this Book
Chapter 2: Origin and History
A General Model
Geology, Physiography, and Pre-Neogene History
Neogene and Quaternary History
Disjunctions and the Gulf Coastal Corridor
Human History in the South, as It Relates to Grasslands
Chapter 3: Biological Hotspots and Endangered Ecosystems
Discovering Lost Worlds
Centers of Endemism in the South
Peripherals and Disjuncts
Species Richness in Southern Grasslands
People Care About Diversity, Endemism, and Disjunctions
The Decline of Southern Grasslands
Chapter 4: Physical Factors: Rock, Soil, Landform, Water, and Wind
The Purpose of My Journeys
Rock, Soil, and Landform
Wind, Storms, and Sea-Level Rise
Chapter 5: Fire, Big Animals, and Interactions
Bottom-up, Top-down, and Sideways
Interaction of Fire and Hydrology
The Enigmatic Canebrakes
Chapter 6. The Future of Southern Grasslands: Outline of a Strategy
A Conservation Strategy for Southern Grasslands
Examples of Restoration Projects
About the Author