Grasslands are open areas of land where grasses or grasslike plants are the dominant species. Other forms of vegetation such as trees are rare in grasslands because they are not suited to thrive in the grassland’s dry environment. Grasslands receive water through rainfall, and when it does occur the grasses use their roots to search for moisture. Grass within this type of environment reproduces by releasing pollen when the winds blow or by producing plants from their roots.
The two major types of grasslands are Tropical Savannah and Temperate Grassland. Both types are located in regions where there are hot summer temperatures and low precipitation. Tropical Savannah Grasslands occur in Africa, Australia, South America and Indonesia and receive 20 to 60 inches of rainfall annually. Temperate Grasslands are also called Prairies or Steppes and they receive 10 to 35 inches of annual rainfall.
Grassland ecosystems are influenced over time by the organisms and plants that live there, the local climate, the natural landscape and natural disturbances to the environment such as fires or floods. Various species such as buffalo, elephants, badgers, armadillos and many insects have adapted to and are located in grassland environments throughout the world. Physical features of grasslands such as wide open grass-covered plains or scattered trees located next to scarce streams help to create a diverse environment within the grassland ecosystem.
Natural and human disturbances to grassland areas can cause changes within this particular ecosystems environment. Landslides, flash floods, wind storms, harvesting, planting and hunting are activities that have affected the organisms and landscapes within this type of ecosystem. Animals that graze in grasslands can also help to erode the territory if they overfeed. Urban development, agricultural production and invasive plants are all factors that work to destroy grasslands.