American Bison Herd Research

Historically, the American bison was a common sight in Nebraska. Their 150-year absence from the Platte River Valley has prompted land managers and researchers to speculate the impacts the vast herds of these animals once had on grasslands and wet meadows along the Platte River.

American Bison Herd ResearchAt the Crane Trust, cattle grazing is used to manage vegetation in a way that promotes healthy habitats and high biodiversity. Various grazing systems have been used on Crane Trust properties, and ultimately the recipe for sustainable grasslands has included doses of grazing, rest, fire, and some mechanical means of vegetation control. As management changes and we adapt to the new things science tells us about maintaining critical Platte River grasslands, we strive to research and understand as much about how management affects the plants and animals that inhabit these lands as possible.

Now, those studies can have a new focus as we have reintroduced bison to some properties near our headquarters on Shoemaker Island. Currently we are researching how bison impact upland and lowland plant communities relative to cattle. In the future, we plan to expand studies to include bison-crane interactions, both direct and indirect, as a means of learning how the addition of this historic grazer can benefit migratory birds.