Prairie differs from calcareous grassland (pelouse) by often being on sandy damp slightly acid soil, whereas pelouse is usually dry chalky alkaline soil (sometimes sandy, but almost always dry). Pelouse is dominated by low growing grasses and herbaceous plants. Prairie is characterised by flat or gently undulating land suitable for hay mowing or grazing large beasts such as cattle, whereas pelouse is often on steep slopes where sheep and goats were grazed, but unsuitable for mowing. The natural prairie vegetation grows tall, natural pelouse vegetation is short (but can get rank if not grazed). Both habitats will quickly scrub over if not mowed or grazed.
Prairie differs from bocage by being more open and unenclosed by tall hedges, generally in bigger fields (sometimes bounded by low hedges).
Prairie is probably the habitat most in decline and endangered in the Touraine Loire Valley, as it is all too frequently ploughed up to produce arable crops, or 'improved' to provide more nutritious pasture or silage (which is cut earlier in the season than traditional hay, before the native flora has a chance to set seed).
|Rosnay Common in the Brenne, managed as a prairie nature reserve.|