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Biomes

Grasslands

Prairie grasslands and bison


The grasslands biome can be divided up into the temperate grasslands and tropical grasslands. On this page we will discuss the temperate grasslands. Tropical grasslands are also called savannas. You can read more about this biome on the savanna biome page.

What are grasslands?

Grasslands are wide expanses of land filled with low growing plants such as grasses and wildflowers. The amount of rain is not enough to grow tall trees and produce a forest, but it is enough to not form a desert. The temperate grasslands have seasons including a hot summer and a cold winter.

Where are the major world grasslands?

Grasslands are generally located between deserts and forests. The major temperate grasslands are located in central North America in the United States, in Southeast South America in Uruguay and Argentina, and in Asia along the southern portion of Russia and Mongolia.

Map of the grasslands biome


Types of Temperate Grasslands

Each major area of grasslands in the world has its own characteristics and is often called by other names: Animals in the Grasslands

A variety of animals live in the grasslands. These include prairie dogs, wolves, turkeys, eagles, weasels, bobcats, foxes, and geese. A lot of smaller animals hide down in the grasses such as snakes, mice, and rabbits.

The North American plains were once full of bison. These large herbivores ruled the plains. It is estimated there were millions of them before the Europeans arrived and began slaughtering them in the 1800s. Although there are numerous bison in commercial herds today, there are few in the wild.

Plants in the Grasslands

Different kinds of grass grow in different areas of the grasslands. There are actually thousands of different kinds of grasses that grow in this biome. Where they grow usually depends on the amount of rain that area gets. In wetter grasslands, there are tall grasses that can grow up to six feet high. In dryer areas the grasses grow shorter, maybe only a foot or two tall.

Types of grasses that grow here include buffalo grass, blue grama grass, needle grass, big bluestem, and switchgrass.

Other plants that grow here include sunflowers, sagebrush, clover, asters, goldenrods, butterfly weed, and butterweed.

Fires

Wildfires can play an important role in the biodiversity of the grasslands. Scientists believe that occasional fires help to rid the land of old grasses and allow for new grasses to grow, bringing new life to the area.

Farming and Food

The grassland biome plays an important role in human farming and food. They are used to grow staple crops such as wheat and corn. They are also good for grazing livestock such as cattle.

The Shrinking Grasslands

Unfortunately, human farming and development has caused the grassland biome to steadily shrink. There are conservation efforts going on to try and save the grasslands that are left as well as the endangered plants and animals.

Facts about the Grassland Biome More ecosystem and biome subjects:

Back to the main Biomes and Ecosystems page.

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