Grasslands make up one of Earth's major terrestrial biomes. Dominated by grasses and shaped by other biotic factors, different types of grasslands exist in tropical and temperate climates. Tropical grasslands cover much of Africa, Australia, South America and India, including the African savanna. Temperate grasslands include the North American prairies, as well as areas of Europe, South America, and the steppes of Russia and northern Asia.
Grassland biomes are fueled by a plethora of different grasses and forbes. The types of grasses present depend on the climate and location of the grassland, but all grasses have some basic characteristics in common. Grasses are well adapted to live in regions prone to drought and fire. The long, narrow leaves of grass lose water less rapidly than broad-leafed plants. The silica present in the leaves of many grasses makes them strong enough to grow tall and maximize exposure to sunlight. The plants store much of their energy underground in their rhizomes and root system, so when leaves are killed by fires or predation, the plants can easily send up new growth.
Numerous insects and other invertebrates live in grasslands. Some of the insects, such as grasshoppers, locusts and caterpillars, consume the grasses and act as grazers. Others, such as earthworms, serve crucial underground roles, helping to decompose organic matter and maintaining soil health. Invertebrates also provide an important food source for the many bird species that inhabit grasslands.
Some types of animals are specially adapted to consume hard-to-digest grass leaves. Grasslands represent an ecological relationship between grasses and grazing animals. Whether the animals are wildebeest and zebras or bison and elk, the grazing herds help shape grasslands. Grazing animals help control tree growth to prevent competition pressures on grasses. Grazing also helps promote new growth in grasses as older, less productive parts of the grass leaves are cut off by grazers. The animals also help fertilize grasslands, returning nutrients to the soil through their manure. Other small animals, such as ground squirrels, rabbits and other burrowing mammals help shape grasslands.
The herds of grazing animals present on many grasslands live in relationship with the grassland predators. Predators help prevent over population of prey populations and also help keep the population healthier by preying on sick, injured and older individuals. Without predators, prey species such as deer can overpopulate an area, leading to starvation and illness within the hear. Tropical grasslands, such as Savannas, boast charismatic predators such as lions, cheetahs and jaguars. Predators in temperate grasslands, such as prairies, include foxes, birds of prey, bobcats, coyotes and wolves in areas where they have not been extirpated.
- Photo Credit Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images
Biotic and Abiotic Factors in the Savanna Grassland
A savanna grassland is an ecological system with scattered shrubs and isolated trees. The grasslands are found on both sides of the...
What Are Abiotic Factors of the Grassland Biome?
The Earth has several regions that can share common climactic and biological characteristics. These regions are called biomes. Grasslands are one type...
What Are Some Abiotic Factors in a Temperate Rain Forest?
Abiotic factors, or nonliving factors, of a temperate rain ... Biotic and Abiotic Factors in the Savanna Grassland. ... The biotic factors...
What Are Factors of a Biome?
Biotic Factors in the Grassland Biome; How to Make a Biome Project Out of a Shoebox; What Is a Grassland Biome? Comments....
Non-Living Limiting Factors in the Grassland
Non-Living Limiting Factors in the Grassland. ... Biotic and Abiotic Factors in the Savanna Grassland; Limiting Factors in the Ecosystem; Print this...
Abiotic Factors of a Rain Forest
They are common in Asia, Australia, Africa, South America, Central America and the south Pacific. ... Biotic factors include other living organisms,...
Abiotic Things in the Deciduous Forest
Abiotic & Biotic Factors in Ecosystems; ... The temperate deciduous forest is a type of biome, occurring in zones above and below...
Biotic Factors in Ecosystems
In ecosystems, biotic factors are all living organisms and the waste that they produce. This refers to large life-forms such as trees...
Climate Description of the Temperate Grasslands
Climate Description of the Temperate Grasslands. Temperate grasslands occur everywhere around the world except Antarctica. ... Biotic Factors in the Grassland Biome.
Abiotic & Biotic Factors in Ecosystems
An ecosystem is made up of biotic and abiotic factors interacting with each other. Abiotic factors can do without biotic factors but...
Symbiotic Relationships in the Temperate Grasslands
Temperate grasslands are biomes at mid-latitude geographies. ... Biotic Factors in the Grassland Biome. Grasslands make up one of Earth's major terrestrial...