The Atlantic

What America Lost When It Lost the Bison

By migrating in huge herds, bison behave like a force of nature, engineering and intensifying waves of spring greenery that other grazers rely on.
Source: Justin A. Morris / Getty

Chris Geremia was surprised. After considerable effort, and substantial risk to life and limb, he and his colleagues finally had the results from their decade-long experiment, and those results were both clear and unexpected: Bison do not surf.

Specifically, bison (or buffalo) don’t follow the waves of new shoots that burst from the ground every spring. This phenomenon, known as surfing the green wave, allows animals to eat plants at their most nutritious, when they’re full of nitrogen and proteins and low in indigestible matter. Such freshness is fleeting, and so grazers undertake large migrations to track the new greenery as it crests across

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