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MWC Eco-brief: American Buffalo

The American buffalo is a critical keystone prairie species. Grazing by roaming buffalo herds keeps aggressive grass species in check and creates a mosaic of disturbed and undisturbed habitats. Their grazing triggers a response in the vegetation that actually causes the prairie to produce more biomass than if not grazed at all. Buffalo excrement and urine fertilize the soil and spread seed over vast areas. The seeds of prairie plants stuck in the buffalo's hide are deposited at wallowing sites, a behavior that provides habitat for early successional species of plants and animals. When the buffalo passes, it's hide of accumulated seed becomes a fertile bed for rejuvenation of the very prairie upon which it depends.


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