Temperate shrublands are a type of biome that includes areas such as chaparrals, woodlands and savannas. They tend to range between the 30- and 40-degree marks of north and south latitude and often occur in areas with varying or little rainfall. Shrubs and small trees are their most common plants, and a wide variety of fauna is found in shrublands, ranging from prairie dogs to buffalo. Several environmental problems threaten most temperate shrublands.
Because shrublands tend to occur in arid areas or high elevations, droughts are often a problem. Some shrubland plants developed the waxy coatings and spines of desert flora to better protect against the ravaging effects of long droughts, but other plants have weaker defenses. Human activity such as the building of dams can begin and increase the severity of droughts.
Dry conditions create the danger of fire, which can spread quickly through shrublands because they tend to have long, running fields of shrubs and grasses that are very susceptible to wildfire and wind. Humans can exacerbate the problem by protecting shrublands from naturally occurring wildfires and allowing dead growth to build up.
Temperate shrublands often border areas that make good pasture or croplands. As a result, eventually shrublands are turned into commercial property for raising livestock or growing grains and other types of plants. This shrinks the overall size of the shrublands and the room that shrubland species have to expand.
Species loss in shrublands typically occurs when humans hunt a species to extinction or near extinction, as happened with the American buffalo, among other species. Removing one species from the food chain in a shrubland has widespread effects, weakening the environmental response of the biome and making it more susceptible to disasters and even failure.
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