American bison

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American bison
American bison
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus: Bison
Binomial name
Bison bison
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Muybridge Buffalo galloping.gif

The American bison (American buffalo or just buffalo) is a bovine mammal. "Buffalo" is something of a mistake (a 'misnomer') as it is only distantly related to the water buffalo and the African buffalo.

Bison are a keystone species. Their staple foods are grasses and sedges. They once roamed the North American continent in great herds, and their grazing helped shape the ecology of the Great Plains. The bisons has a large head with relatively small, curving horns. Its dark brown coat is long and shaggy on the forequarters, including the front legs, neck, and shoulders, while the rest of the body has shorter, finer hair.

American bison live in river valleys, and on prairies and plains. Typical habitat is open or semi-open grassland, as well as sagebrush, semi-arid lands and scrublands. Bison will also graze in hilly or mountainous areas where the slopes are not steep. Though not particularly known as high altitude animals, bison in the Yellowstone Park are frequently found at elevations above 8,000 feet and the Henry Mountains bison herd is found on the plains around the Henry Mountains, Utah, as well as in mountain valleys of the Henry Mountains to an altitude of 10,000 feet.

Although bison once roamed across North America, they are now ecologically extinct over most of their historic range. They live on in a few national parks and other small wildlife areas.

References[change | change source]

  1. Gates, C. & Aune, K (2008). Bison bison. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2008. Retrieved on November 10, 2008.Database entry includes a note of why this species has "near threatened" status.