23 episodes

Two prairie biologists make the ever-growing argument for why grasslands are the world's best biome.

The Best Biome Rachel Roth and Nicole Brown

    • Science
    • 5.0 • 4 Ratings

Two prairie biologists make the ever-growing argument for why grasslands are the world's best biome.

    Vampiric Plants

    Vampiric Plants

    If you ever find yourself staring at a tangle of orange spaghetti in a grassland, it's probably a dodder plant. These talented, strange parasites have no leaves or roots, but plenty of other tricks to make sure that they succeed. Learn about plant communication systems, haustoria, plus a bonus fun tale of a maiden in a prairie looking for love.

    Thanks for listening to our weekly exploration of why grasslands are the best biome. We'll see you in two weeks!

    Primary Sources: Be sure to check out photos and more at our site!




    How to Manage Pests: Dodder. University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources.


    Penn State. 2018. Agricultural parasite takes control of host plant's genes. Science X Network.
    Shen, G., Liu, N., et at. 2020. _Cuscuta australis_ (dodder) parasite eavesdrops on the host plants’ FT signals to flower. PNAS 117(3).
    Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. 2017. Dodder: A parasite involved in the plant alarm system. Science Daily.

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    info@grasslandgroupies.org

    • 51 min
    Chasing the Summer

    Chasing the Summer

    A raptor like no other crosses 20,000km across hemispheres every year, chasing summer and bugs and grasslands through the Americas. The Swainson's Hawk is a spectacle, and we're grateful to have them fighting on our side in the looming grasshopper apocalypse.

    Thanks for listening to our weekly exploration of why grasslands are the best biome. We'll see you next time!

    Primary Sources:


    Bechard, M. J., C. S. Houston, J. H. Sarasola, and A. S. England (2020). Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.swahaw.01
    Bird Names for Birds; William Swainson

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    info@grasslandgroupies.org

    • 48 min
    Grasshopper Grazing

    Grasshopper Grazing

    How can grasshoppers save the world? By doing what they do best: eating. But too many grasshoppers might end us all so keep that in mind the next time you turn your nose up at entomophagy.

    Thanks for listening to our weekly exploration of why grasslands are the best biome. We'll see you next time!

    Primary Sources: Be sure to check out photos and more at our site!


    Carolina Grasshopper poem. A Michigan Menagerie in Poems. YouTube.
    Zhong, Z. 2014. Positive interactions between large herbivores and grasshoppers, and their consequences for grassland plant diversity. Ecology.
    Chuck Lyons. 1874: The Year of the Locust. HistoryNet.
    Huis, A., Itterbeeck, J., et al. 2013. Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. PDF.

    Contact
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    info@grasslandgroupies.org

    • 1 hr
    The Mighty Oak Savanna

    The Mighty Oak Savanna

    Rachel takes us on a journey into one of North America's savannas dominated by oak trees. They provide shelter and food for a variety of different animals and (surprise) are critically endangered. One of the biggest causes of decline is a change in land management when European settlers pushed out indigenous land caretakers. This episode is a little long but worth the ride.

    Primary Sources: Be sure to check out photos and more at our site!


    Gucker, Corey L. 2011. Quercus macrocarpa. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). [2021, August 2].
    Savanna Oak Foundation, http://www.oaksavannas.org/
    Nuzzo, V.A. 1986. Extent and status of Midwest oak savanna: presettlement and 1985. Natural Areas Journal 6: 6-36.
    McPherson, Guy R. 1997. Ecology and Management of North American Savannas. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.(edited)

    Contact
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    info@grasslandgroupies.org

    • 1 hr 11 min
    The Cunning Coyote

    The Cunning Coyote

    Episode Notes
    Coyotes are fantastic survivors that no matter how much people hate them (and boy do they hate them) they keep thriving. They are the ultimate flexitarian, can control their litter sizes, and just can't be stopped on their conquest to take over the world. We also dive into the problem of human-coyote conflict and how best to etch out a living alongside these awesome creatures.

    Thanks for listening to our exploration of why grasslands are the best biome. We'll see you next time!

    Primary Sources: Be sure to check out photos and more at our site!


    Urban Coyote Research Project Website. Cook County Urban Coyote Research Project.
    Project Coyote Website. Earth Island Institute.
    Worrall, S. 2016. "How the Most Hated Animal in America Outwitted Us All". National Geographic.
    Hennessy, C. 2007. "Mating Strategies and Pack Structure of Coyotes in an Urban Landscape: A Genetic Investigation". The Ohio State University.

    Contact
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    info@grasslandgroupies.org

    • 55 min
    Pleistocene Park

    Pleistocene Park

    The concept behind Pleistocene Park is deceptively simple: rewild the Pleistocene Siberian arctic, slow the effects of climate change in the arctic. All it takes to revive the 10,000-year-old Mammoth Steppe, restore permafrost, and seriously reduce carbon and methane emissions--according to scientists--is releasing long-gone megafauna and watching the ecosystem shift under their influence.

    The park is an incredible experiment, but more incredible is the paleoscience, climate science, grassland ecosystem development, and the incredible work of Sergey and Nikita Zimov to show that the science can work in practice.

    Primary Sources: Be sure to check out photos and more at our site!


    Nikita Zimov: Pleistocene Park & Rewilding Siberia to Save the Climate. Webinar hosted by Sustainable Design Masterclass.
    Beer, C., Zimov, N., Olofsson, J. et al. Protection of Permafrost Soils from Thawing by Increasing Herbivore Density. Sci Rep 10, 4170 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-60938-y
    Zimov, S. A., Zimov, N. S., Tikhonov, A. N., & Chapin, F. S. (2012). Mammoth steppe: a high-productivity phenomenon. Quaternary Science Reviews, 57, 26–45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2012.10.005
    Zimov, N. Pleistocene Park. https://pleistocenepark.ru/

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Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
4 Ratings

4 Ratings

Brick1083 ,

Unexpected in all the best ways

Having grown up in KS, I have a pretty good grasp on grasslands, or so I thought. From parrots to river islands to prehistoric camels, grasslands are far more expansive than I ever imagined. Nicole and Rachel expertly educate and entertain in an effort to bring the Best Biome the credit it deserves.

SkyloRen~ ,

Grasslands!

Wonderful and informative podcast discussing grassland ecology and all things grassland! Theres way more to it than you thought!

JohnnyTheQ ,

Rachel and Nicole are my favorite naturalists!

Loved the GPNC podcasts. Happy to see you ladies continuing here!

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