Temperate grasslands are defined as places where grasses predominate over trees and shrubs.
The name for this biome, temperate grasslands, is a great description for what it is like there. The most important plants in this biome are grasses. Two major kinds of grasslands in the world:
• Temperate grasslands.
Savannas are defined as places where individual shrubs and trees are scattered among the grasses.
Temperate grasslands: trees and shrubs are completely absent or rare. Prairies have long grasses, and steppes have short grasses, but both are temperate grasslands. The three most prominent features of temperate grasslands are their climate, soil and flora and fauna.
Prairies: An extensive area of flat or rolling, predominantly treeless grassland, especially the large tract or plain of central North America.
There are six large areas of temperate grassland:
The Pampas in South America,
The Veld in Africa,
the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia,
The Canterbury Plains in New Zealand
The Prairies in North America
and The Steppes in Central Asia.
Temperate grassland biomes can be found in many locations. Often, they are known by different names in the areas where they exist. In South Africa they are known as the veldts. In Argentina and Uruguay they are called the pampas. In Russia they are referred to as the steppes, and in the United States we call them the plains and prairies. While there were once vast expanses of temperate grasslands in the United States, their size has been reduced greatly. Very few natural prairies remain because the majority have been turned into farms or been converted to grazing land. This is because they are flat, treeless, and have very rich soil.
Temperate grasslands have a temperate continental climate, which is cooler than savannas. Temperate grasslands have warm, humid summers with an average temperature of 18° C and cool, dry winters with an average temperature of 10° C. Most of the rain falls as convection rain in the summer and sometimes frost and snow may occur in the winter. Further Explanation:
Temperatures in this biome vary greatly between summer and winter. The summers are hot and the winters are cold – much colder than Santa Barbara! With cold winters, it’s surprising how hot the grassland summers can get! Sometimes the temperature is more than 100°F (37.8°C). Rain in the temperate grasslands usually occurs in the late spring and early summer. The yearly average is about 20 – 35 inches (55 – 95 cm), but much of this falls as snow in the winter. Fire is not foreign in temperate grasslands. They are often set by lightning or human activity. Fire regularly swept the plains in earlier times, and to some extent still does today.
AMOUNT OF PRECIPITATION:
• Rainfall is generally less in temperate grasslands.
• Rain usually falls in the late spring and early summer.
Temperate grasslands receive low to moderate precipitation on average per year (20-35 inches) (55 – 95 cm) . Most of this precipitation is in the form of snow in temperate grasslands of the northern hemisphere.
Due to the relatively low amount of precipitation received in these grasslands, it is difficult for trees and large shrubs to survive. For this reason, the majority of plants found in the biome consists of different types of grasses. These grasses have adapted to survive long periods of drought as well as the cold temperatures and occasional fires that spread throughout the area. They have also evolved to have large deep root systems to take hold in the soil and help prevent erosion.
The Soil of the temperate grass is deep and dark. The upper layers are the most fertile because of the build up of the many layers of dead branching stems and roots. This organic matter on the surface and in the dead roots provide a great degree of nourishment for the living plants. Rich in “chernozens” or “udolls” characterize grasslands. Possess a thick organic layer of very dark humus; active earth worm and soil fauna activity making this soil one of the most productive terrestrial systems. People who live in grassland regions often use these soils for farming.
There are many species of grasses that live in this biome, including: ○ Andropogon
○ Some herbs can be found between them.
○ purple needlegrass
○ buffalo grass
Trees are rare in the temperate grasslands because there is not enough moisture for them to grow as they have longer life cycles and need longer growing season than grasses. Popular flowers that you might find growing on grasslands are: (asters, blazing stars, goldenrods, sunflowers, clovers, and wild indigos.) FAUNA
Due to the vegetative makeup of the grasslands, they are home to large varieties of herbivores. In the Americas the animals include:
○ bison and wild horses.
In Africa the animals include:
○ gazelles, zebra, and rhinoceros.
The presence of these large herbivores also brings in predators such as: ○ wolves in the Americas
○ lions in Africa.
Some of the smaller animals that inhabit the temperate grasslands include prairie dogs, grasshoppers, snakes, coyotes, sparrows, quail, and hawks.
PEOPLE AND THE TEMPERATE GRASSLAND: One of the main environmental concerns regarding temperate grasslands is the conversion of grassland to farmland. The rich soil is ideal for farming and grazing. With continual agricultural development and progress we have lost many of our natural grasslands. Instead of native grasses, now grasslands supply corn, wheat, and other grains, as well as grazing areas for domestic ungulates, such as sheep and cattle.
The food supplied by farmlands is important, but so is this unique biome, and the plants and animals that live in the temperate grassland. Livestock farming and cereal farming are both practised by people living in the grassland areas. Livestock farming such as dairy farming and cattle ranching are possible because there are sufficient and suitable grasses for herbivores. The leaves and stems of grasses dacay after they die and produce rich humus. This helps to create excellent agricultural lands so that cereals like wheat can be grown.