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American plains bison

     In the winter months, food becomes scarce, but the American bison has a few tricks to survive the cold. Bison have adapted to slowing their metabolism to conserve energy, thus reducing their food consumption. To access difficult food sources, bison use their massive head and neck like a snow plow to push snow out of the way to access the little bit of plant matter that remains. This behavior is important for other species' ability to access food as well. Another adaptation bison have is they will grow a thicker coat in the winter to better insulate their bodies from the cold. In the spring, this coat thins and falls off.

     The American bison was hunted to near extinction over the last 200 hundred years and the Yellowstone area was the only place Bison have continually occupied since precolonial times. Conservation efforts and reintroduction have brought this important organism back in certain areas across the country.


To learn more about the importance of bison across the country, read the series of blogs title "Bison Bellows"completed by the National Park Service. These articles cover all aspects of bison biology, ecology and cultural significance. Click the logo to access these great resources. 


Photographer: Justin Grubb

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