Climate change could affect Midwest prairie grass - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Climate change could affect Midwest prairie grass

(KFVS) -

An important prairie grass could be strongly impacted by climate change in the next 75 years.

Professor of Plant Biology at Southern Illinois University, Sara Baer, is among the team of researchers that recently published a published a paper in the journal Global Change Biology on one of the Midwest’s most dominant and economically important grassland plants.

Big Bluestem, also known by its scientific name, Andropogon gerardii, is a common grass in natural and restored prairies extending across the central Midwestern region that includes Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois.

"This has important implications for future productivity of tallgrass prairie in the current core distribution of this species, where livestock production is a major agricultural enterprise,” Baer said. “It also has important implications for selecting appropriate sites to restore tallgrass prairie in the future and where to collect seeds to restore prairie communities that will be resilient to climate change.”

In the Midwest, Big Bluestem can grow to 4 to 6 feet tall, but the researchers found that climate change could reduce height by up to 60 percent during the next 75 years. 

Scientists say about 20 percent of plants are already on the brink of extinction due to climate change.

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