Savannas are diverse biomes located between rain forests and deserts on either side of the equator -- usually, Africa's Serengeti Plain and other grasslands come to mind. The savanna is known as the cerrado in Brazil, the llanos in Venezuela and Colombia and the pine savanna in Belize and Honduras. Although the specific plant and animal species and their diversity differ among geographic regions, the basic trophic structure of the savanna remains the same.
Savannas are dominated by tall grasses, which are the primary producers that convert energy from the sun and minerals and nutrients from the soil into the biomass that forms the basis of the food web. In the savanna, the lowest trophic level often includes shrubs and sparse trees, including palms, pines and acacias.
Primary consumers abound in the savannas, where more than a dozen species may coexist peacefully, each with their own niche. These herbivores include giraffes; antelopes; wildebeests; rhinos; elephants; rodents; birds; tortoises; and, in Australia, kangaroos. Herbivores consume plant material and convert the plant energy into a food source for higher trophic levels.
Higher Order Consumers
Secondary consumers in the savannas include carnivorous species such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, wild dogs, snakes, lizards and birds of prey. Tertiary consumers are those carnivores, such as lions, which prey upon other carnivores as well as herbivores.
Scavengers and Decomposers
Scavengers and decomposers also play important roles in the trophic system of the savanna biome. Scavengers such as vultures, buzzards, hyenas and termites are abundant and form an integral part of the nutrient cycling system. Decomposers follow the scavengers, as insects, mushrooms and bacteria break down plant and animal remains and return the nutrients and minerals to the soil.
About the Author
Emmalise Mac has been writing professionally since 2006 and her work has been published online, in newsletters, newspapers and scientific journals and in wildlife guidebooks. She has published on topics including wildlife, pets and pet health, science, gardening, outdoor activities and crafts. She holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in biology.