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Digital assignment-1

Environmental science
Grassland ecosystem
A grassland ecosystem is the collection of plants, animals and micro-organisms
that live within an environment where grasses are the primary form of
Grasses are the dominant vegetation.
Examples: 1.the prairies of western North America,
2. the Pampas of Argentina and the Russian steppes.

Temperate grasslands are located north of the Tropic of and south of the
Tropic of Capricorn.

The major temperate grasslands include the veldts of Africa, the pampas of
South America, the steppes of Eurasia, and the plains of North America.


Grassland vegetation can vary in height from very short, as in chalk grassland,
to quite tall, as in the case of North American tall grass prairie, South
American grasslands and African savannas. Trees and large shrubs are largely

Woody plants, shrubs or trees, may occur on some grasslands

forming savannas, scrubby grassland or semi-wooded grassland, such as the
African savannas or the Iberian dehesa.

Temperate grasslands have hot summers and cold winters. Summer

temperatures can be well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while winter
temperatures can be as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Annual rainfall ranges between 500 and 900 mm

They typically have between 10 and 35 inches of precipitation a year, much of

it occurring in the late spring and early summer. Snow often serves as a
reservoir of moisture for the beginning of the growing season.

Seasonal drought and occasional fires help maintain these grasslands.


Temperate grasslands have a low diversity of wildlife, but a high abundance of


The dominant grazing animals are bison and pronghorn. Rodents include
pocket gophers and prairie dogs.

Carnivores include wolves, coyotes, swift foxes, badgers and black-footed


Birds include grouses, meadowlarks, quails, sparrows, hawks and owls


Temperate grasslands have soils that are nutrient-rich from the growth and
decay of deep, many-branched grass roots. The rotted roots hold the soil
together and provide a food source for living plants.

Human Impact and Economic Importance

Grassland vegetation often remains dominant in a particular area usually due

to grazing, cutting, or natural or manmade fires, all discouraging colonisation
by and survival of tree and shrub seedlings. Some of the world's largest
expanses of grassland are found in African savanna, and these are maintained
by wild herbivores as well as by nomadic pastoralists and their cattle, sheep or

Grasslands may occur naturally or as the result of human activity. Grasslands

created and maintained by human activity are called anthropogenic grasslands.
Overgrazing by livestock and ploughing are the two greatest threats to
temperate grasslands. Since the development of the steel plough much of
these grasslands have been converted to agricultural lands because of their
rich soil. Lack of fire and fragmentation are also threats, as is past and present
wildlife eradication

Hunting peoples around the world often set regular fires to maintain and
extend grasslands, and prevent fire-intolerant trees and shrubs from taking

the economics that the worlds grasslands have to offer albeit from producing
grazing animals, tourism, ecosystems services such as clean water and air, or
from energy extraction.


Over one quarter of the Earth's surface is covered by grasslands. Grasslands

are found on every continent except Antarctica, and they make up most of
Africa and Asia. There are several types of grassland.


Grasslands develop where there isn't enough rain for forests but too much rain
for deserts. Grasslands are filled with grass. There are many types of grass,
though. Fields of wheat are considered grasslands, even though they are often
cultivated by people. Grass is special because it grows underneath the ground.
During cold periods the grass can stay dormant until it warms up. The living
condition is very poor on grassland.