The Grassland Biome
As the name suggests, these are massive areas dominated by one or a few species of grass, with a few sparsely distributed trees. There are two main types of grassland biomes: the Savanna Grasslands and
the Temperate Grasslands. One major savanna is located in Africa and takes up more than a third of the continent’s land area. Others can be found in India, South America, and Australia. Temperate grasslands can be found in South Africa, Argentina, and some plains in Central North America.
If a grassland is prevented from developing into a forest by climatic conditions such as rainfall, they are known as Climatic Savanna. If their characteristics are kept by soils they are referred to as Edaphic Savanna.
Sometimes, large animals such as elephants can constantly disturb young trees from taking over grasslands. Human activities such as farming or bush fires can also prevent grasslands from developing into forests. Such grasslands are referred to as Derived Savannas.
Soils in the savanna are thin-layered and do not hold water. The soil contains some organic matter from dead grass, which is a source of nutrients for plants.
Rainfall is moderate, and not enough to cause floods. Animals in the savannas include large mammals such as lions, hyenas, snakes, giraffes, and buffaloes with lots of insects.
Temperatures in the Temperate Grasslands are extreme, with high summer and freezing winter temperatures. Animals here include hawks, owls, deer, mice, foxes, rabbits, and spiders. Temperate grasslands with short grasses are called Steppes, and those with tall grasses are called Prairies.