Maps and Climate
Geomorphology
and Geology
Forest Ecology
Grassland Ecology
Wetland Ecology
Human History
Provincial Park

Grassland Ecology


Photograph by Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta


Areas that are too dry for forests and too moist for deserts are often dominated by grasses and flowering plants with extensively developed roots. Soils in temperate grasslands have a deep organic layer and are known as Chernozemic soils. (Botkin and Keller, 1998).

Grasslands Biome

The dominant grass in the Cypress Hills is rough fescue (Festuca scabrella). Rough fescue is an erect, densely tuffed perennial that often has short rhizomoes. Rough fescue can be located throughout the Canadian prairies, usually on north-facing (cooler) slopes. It is common, however, in the Cypress Hills, the Wood Mountain, the Parklands, and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
(Best, Looman, and Baden Campbell, 1971)


Alberta Rough Fescue Grasslands: A Workshop and Planning Meeting

Supplementation to Enhance Performance of Pregnant Cows on Rough Fescue Grasslands - Alberta Agriculutre Research Institute

Some other grasses found in the Cypress Hills include:
  • Crested Wheat Grass (Agropyron christatum) - introduced
  • Northern Wheat Grass (Agropyron dasystachym)
  • Western Wheat Grass (Agropyron smithii)
  • Smooth Brome (Bromus inermis) - introduced
  • Foxtail Barley (Hordeum jubatum)
  • June Grass (Koeleria cristata)
  • Timothy (Phleum pratense) - introduced
    (Best, Looman, and Baden Campbell, 1971)

    Alberta Range Plants and Their Classification

    Range and Pasture Management


    Postcard. Photograph by O. Tarnasky

    "The highest abundance and the greatest diversity of large mammals are found in grasslands such as...the once-huge herds of bison that roamed the prairies of the American west" (Botkin and Keller, 1998).

    Bison - Canadian Wildlife Service
    American Bison - The Wyoming Buffalo Company

    "Life on the plains between 500 and 1700 revolved around the bison herds" (Hildebrandt and Hubner, 1994).
    See Human History, Native People

    Although you will no longer see any bison roaming on the grasses of the Cypress Hills, you may see coyotes, foxes, Richardson's Groundsquirrels, and badgers. When visiting the grasslands, be sure to look to the sky and keep your ears open. Birds such as the Wester Meadowlark, Swainson's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Gray or Hungarian Partridge (introduced), Ring-necked Pheasant (introduced), and the Ruffed Grouse (introduced) are common inhabitats of the grasslands.

    Coyote - Canadian Wildlife Service
    Red Fox - Canadian Wildlife Service
    Swift Fox - Canadian Wildlife Service

    Prescribed Burning Guidelines in the Northern Great Plains
    Friendly Fire

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