What are Grasslands?
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is mainly grass. Grasslands are one of the main biomes that have natural vegetation. Grasslands are usually found between dryer areas and wetter areas. There are grasslands with tall grass and others with short grass scattered around the world.
Grasslands actually have different names as you travel around the world. In North America, grasslands are called prairies. In South America, grasslands are pampas. Veld is the name for grasslands in South Africa. In northern Africa, you find savannas, which are tropical grasslands. In south-eastern Australia, rangelands are the grassland name. Steppes cover lots of Asia through Russia and China.
It may not seem like grasslands have a lot of biodiversity since they are mainly grass. However, they have a large number of species living in them. Unfortunately, most grassland areas have seen a drop in biodiversity. Prairies have been especially threatened due to the invasion of non-native species. In fact, 13-30 percent of the grasses found in prairies are now non-native grasses.
Grasslands are found on six of the seven continents. Grasslands are not found in Antarctica because it is too cold for grass to live. The grassland is a biome which is mainly found in the middle of countries, away from the ocean.
There are two different types of grasslands: temperate grasslands and tropical grasslands. Tropical grasslands are also home to some of the largest land animals on earth. Africa is a great example of the two types of grasslands. If you are in the southern part of the continent, you will see temperate grasslands because you are far away from the equator. As you head north, you will find savannas with small amounts of trees because the climate is hotter.
Tropical grasslands are hotter than temperate, hence the name. Tropical grasslands also get up to 50 inches of rain each year, so trees and brush can grow. Tropical grasslands get lots of rain in the summer, but winters there are usually dryer.
It is always windy in temperate grasslands. The wind may be down at times, but it will still be going on. Temperate grasslands get 20-35 inches of rain each year, compared to forests, which receive more than 79 inches, and deserts, with 9.8 inches of rain per year.
Animals That Inhabit Grasslands
These animals are the ones you will most likely find in temperate grasslands:
- Prairie Dogs
- Bison(a.k.a. Buffalo)
- Saiga Antelope
- Pronghorn Antelope
Worms are probably the animal with the highest population in temperate grasslands. Geese, ducks, and flamingoes (found on pampas), inhabit the waters of temperate grasslands. Moles, prairie dogs, and worms make underground cities so big that even rattlesnakes and rabbits make their homes inside them. There are lots of birds that aren’t listed, too.
Some animals you might see on tropical grasslands are:
- Coke’s hartebeest
- Thomson’s gazelle
- African and Asian elephants
- Spotted hyenas
- Savanna baboons
Some of the largest land animals live on the grasslands, including the giraffe, elephant, and rhinoceros. There are also lots of animals that are related to the antelope like wildebeest and coke’s hartebeest. Lots of big cats inhabit the areas also. Some are the lion, cheetahs, and the spotted hyena. There are many more animals that live there, too.