Biome: Grasslands

Essay by XCgordoUniversity, Bachelor's March 2003

download word file, 2 pages 5.0

Downloaded 74 times

Grasslands are characterized as lands dominated by grasses rather than large shrubs or trees. In the Miocene and Pliocene Epochs, which spanned a period of about 25 million years, mountains rose in western North America and created a continental climate favorable to grasslands. Ancient forests declined and grasslands became widespread. Following the Ice Ages, grasslands expanded in range as hotter and drier climates prevailed worldwide. There are two main divisions of grasslands: (1) tropical grasslands, called savannas, and (2) temperate grasslands.

Savanna is grassland with scattered individual trees. Savannas of one species or another cover almost half the surface of Africa (about five million square miles, generally central Africa) and large areas of Australia, South America, and India. Climate is the most important factor in creating a savanna. Savannas are always found in warm or hot climates where the annual rainfall is from about 50.8 to 127 cm (20-50 inches) per year.

It is crucial that the rainfall is concentrated in six or eight months of the year, followed by a long period of drought when fires can occur. If the rain were well distributed throughout the year, many such areas would become tropical forest. Animals include giraffes, zebras, buffaloes, kangaroos, mice, moles, gophers, ground squirrels, snakes, worms, termites, beetles, lions, leopards, hyenas, and elephants but they all do not stay in the same Savanna. There are also some environmental concerns regarding savannas such as poaching, overgrazing, and clearing of the land for crops.

Temperate grasslands are characterized as having grasses as the dominant vegetation. Trees and large shrubs are absent. Temperatures vary more from summer to winter, and the amount of rainfall is less in temperate grasslands than in savannas. The major manifestations are the veldts of South Africa, the pampas of Argentina and Uruguay, the...