Date of Award
Masters Capstone Project
M.S. in Geographic Information Science
College of Natural Science and Mathematics, Geography and the Environment
Geography, Ecology, North America, Grasslands
The grasslands of North America remain at a fraction of their historic range. Estimates of acreage remaining vary between 4% and 13%. Affectionately known as the Great Plains, these grasslands have been converted for agriculture, rangeland, infrastructure, and civilization itself. Woody Plant Encroachment (WPE) on the grasslands is a silent, often overlooked, serious threat. The use of a simple GIS can estimate current acreage of a grassland, its adjacent woodland corridor, riparian buffers, and predict future acreage based on trends and hypothetical management scenarios, or lack thereof. The American prairie, though a remnant of its former self, is still home to a wide variety flora and fauna. Some of these species are endemic to the region while others are seasonally reliant upon the dwindling habitat. In addition to grasslands being ecologically significant, grasslands offer unseen benefits to society as well. A few of these benefits are carbon sequestration, water filtration, livestock grazing, and erosion control. These grassland benefits are current topics of discussion on their own. One of the more well-known benefits, erosion control, was historically highlighted with the events of the 1920’s Dust Bowl.
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Brandon M. Wolf
Received from author
Wolf, Brandon M., "A GIS Look at Woody Plant Encroachment (WPE): Mapping Grassland Degradation Through Habitat Succession" (2023). Geography and the Environment: Graduate Student Capstones. 77.