Pulse of the Heartland
Historically, grasslands—or prairies—such as this covered one-third of the United States and one-quarter of the entire planet. Their diverse plants fuel an array of pollinators and feed a wealth of other wildlife, from elk and pronghorn to prairie chickens and bobwhite quail. Some prairies are so diverse that they boast more plant species per square foot than a tropical rain forest. Below ground, those plants’ dense root systems cycle nutrients, hold water, store carbon and create some of the world’s most fertile soils.