Grasslands have figured prominently in our North American heritage. Prairies first provided significant barriers to westward expansion, then offered both economic and sociological opportunity, as well as heartache, for settlers. Many artists have gained significant inspiration from the beautyas well as the harshness of these regions and its biota. And, because of ideal climate and soil conditions, these grasslands have provided the agricultural foundation upon which much of the growth and stability of the United States economy rests. Yet, many see North America prairies as beautifulonly when manipulated or exploited--green croplands or manicured park lawns are attractive, whereas native grasslands are "those ugly weeds." In the past, plowing virgin prairie could be easily defended on both economic and sociological grounds. And historically, North American prairies must haveseemed threatening in both their wildness and vastness. But preservation of these prairies is now an urgent need. This book describes the ecology of the North American prairie and urges conservation measures to protect the remaining North American grasslands. It provides non-economic arguments forthe value of prairies, presents a current synthesis of prairie ecology to facilitate the best possible management, and deftly summarizes conservation and management issues, pointing out the costs and benefits of alternative actions. By approaching its subject from a variety of perspectives,including ethical and aesthetic considerations, the book will appeal to environmentalists and conservationists as well as to ecologists, botanists, and conservation biologists.