Tropical Grasslands (Savannas). By Mary Claire Paddock. climate.
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Tropical grasslands, or savannas, are found in warm or hot climates where the annual rainfall ranges from about 20-50 inches. The rainfall is is concentrated in six to eight months of the year, followed by a long period of drought when fires occur. There are two different seasons in a savannah – a very long dry season (winter) and a very wet season (summer). Even during the winter season, temperatures usually only drop to around 70 F.
Due to the fires that occur during the dry season, few trees survive in these regions. Grasses can survive because they grow from the bottom rather than the top. Their deep roots remain unharmed and will send up new growth when the soil becomes more moist. The soil of the savanna is porous, with rapid drainage of water. Predominate vegetation consists of grasses and forbs (small plants that grow with grasses). Deciduous trees and shrubs are scattered across the open landscape. When the rain comes, savannah grasses grow vigorously. Some of the larger grasses can grow and inch or more in 24 hours.
Savannas are spread around the world and different animals reside in the varying locations. The African savannas are home to many large herbivores, including zebras, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, and gazelles. These herbivores provide a wide range of food for the carnivores, like lions, leopards, cheetahs, and jackals. Most of the animals on the savanna have long legs to be able to go on long migrations. Many burrow underground to avoid the heat or raise their young.
Savannas cover almost half of the surface of Africa and large areas of Australia, South America, and India. Most savannas are found between a tropical rainforest and desert biome. They are found in a wide band on either side of the equator.