Disturbance has been a part of the landscape since its origin. Natural and man-made disturbances have created a mosaic of eco-types throughout the upper midwest.
For many centuries Native Americans had been using fire as a tool for managing habitat and accessing food. This management scheme created pastures for North American ungulates (grazing animals). A combination of grazing and periodic fire suppressed woody growth, allowing herbaceous vegetation to flourish. The tall grass prairie and oak savannah eco-types, both fire and grazing dependant, dominated areas of the Midwest and Great Lakes region prior to European settlement.
As early Europeans moved West they noticed the great potential that these vast treeless areas had for crop and livestock production. Thus the prairies and savannahs were plowed to make room for a growing population. Throughout the years, farming shifted from small family farms with small acreage, to large corporate farms with vast acreage. With this shift came drastic changes in land use.
Large farms acquired the largest, flattest, most desirable land they could find. As a result, many small, hard to farm regions were no longer used for agriculture. These small acreages were aquired by non-farmers, and sat idle. As a result of the lack of disturbance to the landscape, many landowners noticed an explosion of brush and exotic vegetation throughout the area. Today many landowners have large areas of unwanted vegetaion with no means of natural control.