Grassland biomes are unaltered areas of land where grass is the dominant plant life, as opposed to other terrestrial biomes where trees occupy most of the land surface.  Grassland are found around the globe and have served as grazing areas for a large number of animals, and have been exploited as farming grounds or plantations by humans. 

Map of World Biomes
Images of Grassland Biomes


Grassland are generally semi-arid areas with little or no trees, and are inhabited by grazing mammals, ground-nesting birds, insects, and a few species of reptiles.  Grassland are found around the world and fall within the following categories: 

Prairies

Prairies are generally humid and are densely covered in tall grass.  There are very few trees on prairies, most of them usually found on hill slopes or more humid near springs and rivulets.  The prairie soil is rich in nutrients and is ideal for the growth of plant life, which is why prairie regions have been exploited by farmers for centuries.  Grazing animals such as oxen and bison who fed on the prairie grass were also exploited by humans, with the bison being driven to near extinction by hunters.

Steppe, 

The steppe grassland is usually found in areas of the world which are less prone to moisture. Steppe vegetation is well suited to this drier climate, and the grass is generally shorter than that which is found on prairie grasslands. Animal life on the steppe is comprised of grazing mammals such as the antelope, and a wide variety of burrowing mammals such as ground squirrels and ferrets. 

Steppes are virtually semi-arid deserts in the making, and are highly threatened by overgrazing.

Savanna

Savanna biomes are distinguished by their warmer drier climates, and their seasonal droughts.  

Savanna plant life is highly adapted to the hot and dry climate, with  trunks that can store water for days, or special built-in mechanisms allowing the plant to lie dormant during periods of drought.

Another variant of this grassland  biome is the Tropical Savanna, which is perhaps the most ecologically diverse of the grasslands; here, several species of animals including birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects congregate and feed upon the trees and grass or each other.  One good example of the tropical savanna is found in Africa, where lions, elephants and warthogs make their home.

Again, humans have exploited many of the animals of the savanna biome, either for sport, fur, or illegal poaching.  Rhinos and elephants are now endangered species due to the illegal trading of their horns and tusks.  Frequent fires have also contributed to the diminishing savanna biome, and though most occur because of the dry heat, they are more frequent in areas populated by humans.

   
Prairies of the World
The Grassland Biome
Grassland3
Fire and Population Dynamics in the Savanna
Grassland (Biomes of the World)
by Edward R. Ricciuti, Edwasrd R. Ricciuti (Library Binding - December 1996)

A Walk in the Prairie (Johnson, Rebecca L. Biomes of North America.)
by Rebecca L. Johnson, Phyllis V. Saroff(Illustrator) (Library Binding - October 2000)

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