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Introduction Grassland vegetation can vary in height from very short, as in chalk where the vegetationNorth American tallgrass prairie , South American grasslands and African savanna . Woody plants, shrubs or trees, may occur on some grasslands - forming savannas, scrubby nd surface of the continent of Africa . While grasslands in general support diverse wildlife, given the lack of hiding places for predators, the African Savanna regions support a much greater diversity in wildlife than do temperate grasslands. The appearance of mountains in the western United States during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, a period of some 25 million years, created a continental climate favorable to the evolution of grasslands. Existing forest biomes declined, and grasslands became much more widespread. Following the Pleistocene Ice Ages , grasslands expanded in range in the hotter, drier climates, and began to become the dominant land feature worldwide. As flowering plants, grasses grow in great concentrations in climates where annual rainfall ranges between 500 and 900 mm (20 and 35 in). The root systems of perennial grasses and " id="pdf-obj-0-2" src="pdf-obj-0-2.jpg">
Introduction Grassland vegetation can vary in height from very short, as in chalk where the vegetationNorth American tallgrass prairie , South American grasslands and African savanna . Woody plants, shrubs or trees, may occur on some grasslands - forming savannas, scrubby nd surface of the continent of Africa . While grasslands in general support diverse wildlife, given the lack of hiding places for predators, the African Savanna regions support a much greater diversity in wildlife than do temperate grasslands. The appearance of mountains in the western United States during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, a period of some 25 million years, created a continental climate favorable to the evolution of grasslands. Existing forest biomes declined, and grasslands became much more widespread. Following the Pleistocene Ice Ages , grasslands expanded in range in the hotter, drier climates, and began to become the dominant land feature worldwide. As flowering plants, grasses grow in great concentrations in climates where annual rainfall ranges between 500 and 900 mm (20 and 35 in). The root systems of perennial grasses and " id="pdf-obj-0-4" src="pdf-obj-0-4.jpg">

Introduction

Grassland vegetation can vary in height from very short, as in chalk where the vegetation may be less than 30 cm (12 in) high, to quite tall, as in the case of North American tallgrass prairie, South American grasslands and African savanna. Woody plants, shrubs or trees, may occur on some grasslands - forming savannas, scrubby nd surface of the continent of Africa. [2] While grasslands in general support diverse wildlife, given the lack of hiding places for predators, the African Savanna regions support a much greater diversity in wildlife than do temperate grasslands. [3]

The appearance of mountains in the western United States during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, a period of some 25 million years, created a continental climate favorable to the evolution of grasslands. Existing forest biomes declined, and grasslands became much more widespread. Following the Pleistocene Ice Ages, grasslands expanded in range in the hotter, drier climates, and began to become the dominant land feature worldwide. [2]

As flowering plants, grasses grow in great concentrations in climates where annual rainfall ranges between 500 and 900 mm (20 and 35 in). [1] The root systems of perennial grasses and

forbs form complex mats that hold the soil in place. Mites, insect larvae, nematodes and earthworms inhabit deep soil, which can reach 6 metres (20 ft) underground in undisturbed grasslands on the richest soils of the world. These invertebrates, along with symbiotic fungi, extend the root systems, break apart hard soil, enrich it with urea and other natural fertilizers, trap minerals and water and promote growth. [4] Some types of fungi make the plants more resistant to insect and microbial attacks.

Climate

Natural grasslands primarily occur in regions that receive between 250 and 900 mm (9.8 and 35 in) of rain per year, as compared with deserts, which receive less than 250 mm (9.8 in) and tropical rainforests, which receive more than 2,000 mm (79 in). [2] Anthropogenic grasslands often occur in much higher rainfall zones, as high as 200 cm (79 in) annual rainfall. Grassland can exist naturally in areas with higher rainfall when other factors prevent the growth of forests, such as in serpentine barrens, where minerals in the soil inhibit most plants from growing.

Average daily temperatures range between -20 and 30 °C. [5] Temperate grasslands have warm summers and cold winters with rain or some snow.

Grassland types ( biomes )

[edit] Tropical and subtropical grasslands

These grasslands are classified with tropical and subtropical savannas and shrublands as the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. Notable tropical and subtropical grasslands include the Llanos grasslands of northern South America.

[edit] Temperate grasslands

Mid-latitude grasslands, including the Prairie and Pacific Grasslands of North America, the Pampas of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, calcareous downland, and the steppes of Europe. They are classified with temperate savannas and shrublands as the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. Temperate grasslands are the home to many large herbivores, such as bison, gazelles, zebras, rhinoceroses, and wild horses. Carnivores like lions, wolves and cheetahs and leopards are also found in temperate grasslands. Other animals of this region include: deer, prairie dogs, mice, jack rabbits, skunks, coyotes, snakes, fox, owls, badgers, blackbirds (both Old and New World varieties), grasshoppers, meadowlarks, sparrows, quails, hawks and hyenas.

Flooded grasslands

Grasslands that are flooded seasonally or year-round, like the Everglades of Florida, the Pantanal of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay or the Esteros del Ibera in Argentina.They are classified with flooded savannas as the flooded grasslands and savannas biome and occur mostly in the tropics and subtropics.

[edit] Montane grasslands

High-altitude grasslands located on high mountain ranges around the world, like the Páramo of the Andes Mountains. They are part of the montane grasslands and shrublands biome and also constitute tundra.

[edit] Tundra grasslands

Similar to montane grasslands, polar arctic tundra can have grasses, but high soil moisture means that few tundras are grass-dominated today. However, during the Pleistocene ice ages, a polar grassland known as steppe-tundra occupied large areas of the Northern hemisphere. These are in the tundra biome.

[edit] Desert and xeric grasslands

Also called desert grasslands, this is composed of sparse grassland ecoregions located in the deserts and xeric shrublands biome.