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Biomes. Section #3: Grassland, Desert, and Tundra Biomes. Biomes of the World. found in climates that have less rainfall less rainfall = less species diversity although you might have less variety, you still might have high numbers of individuals in those species that are present.

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Section #3:

Grassland, Desert, and Tundra Biomes

general info
found in climates that have less rainfall

less rainfall = less species diversity

although you might have less variety, you still might have high numbers of individuals in those species that are present

General Info
these grasslands are located in tropical & subtropical areas near the equator

found in parts of Africa, India, Australia, and South America

overall receive little precipitation throughout the year – but there are periods of heavy rainfall followed by periods of drought

vegetation of the savannas
contain grasses, scattered trees, and shrubs

plants must be able to survive prolonged periods without water

plants have horizontal roots systems to capture as much moisture as possible

grasses have long vertical leaves that expose less surface area to the hot sun

some savanna plants even lose their leaves during the dry season to conserve water

thorns & sharp leaves keep herbivores at bay

Vegetation of the Savannas
savanna fires
during the dry season, fires often sweep across the savanna burning the grasses and shrubs

this returns nutrients to the soil

plants quickly regenerate from the shallow root systems

Savanna Fires
animals of the savanna
mostly grazing herbivores & the predators that feed on them

some grazers have adopted a migratory way of life to follow the rains & find newly sprouted grasses & fresh watering holes

predators usually follow & stalk the migratory animals

savanna animals usually give birth only during the rainy season when more food is available to increase chances of survival

Animals of the Savanna
competition in the savanna
herbivore species reduce the competition for food by eating vegetation at different heights


small gazelles – feed on grasses

black rhinos – feed on shrubs

giraffes – feed on tree leaves

Competition in the Savanna
temperate grasslands
dominated by grasses, very few trees

hot summers, cold winters

moderate rainfall, 50-88 cm of precipitation per year

summer temps and lack of precipitation can make the grasslands susceptible to fires that commonly sweep across the lands

Temperate Grasslands
temperate grasslands1
located on the interior of continents - include North American prairies, steppes of Russia & the Ukraine, and the pampas of South America

few natural temperate grasslands remain, most have been replaced by farms & grazing areas

located near mountains that block the grasslands from receiving much precipitation

Temperate Grasslands
plants of the temperate grasslands
mostly perennials – prairie grasses & wildflowers

grass height depends on root depth

root systems are dense – designed to survive the periods of drought & also hold the rich soil in place

few trees can survive – little rain, fires, & constant wind thwart tree growth

Plants of theTemperate Grasslands
animals of the temperate grasslands
grazers with large, flat teeth for chewing the coarse prairie grasses (bison & antelope)

burrowers like badgers & prairie dogs are protected underground from the weather & fires – also they burrow underground to escape predators

Animals of theTemperate Grasslands
threats of the temperate grasslands
most fertile soil – so many people farm or graze the grasslands

grain crops do not have good root systems to hold the soil – leads to soil erosion

overgrazing leads to grasses being overeaten & trampled – soil cannot regenerate & becomes less productive

Threats of theTemperate Grasslands
the chaparral
type of temperate woodland biome

located in mid-latitudes (30° N or S)

near coastal areas with Mediterranean climates

warm, dry summers & mid, wet winters

too dry to support a forest, but more rain than a desert

receives enough precipitation to support vegetation that grows in bunches

The Chaparral
the chaparral plants
mostly low-lying evergreen plants that grow in dense patches

dominated by broad-leafed evergreen shrubs

plants include chamise, manzanita, scrub oak, olive trees, sage and bay herbs, plus piñon & juniper trees

The Chaparral Plants
the chaparral plants1
the small, leathery leaves retain water and contain oils that promote burning

well adapted to survive fires that kill competition for sunlight

can re-sprout from small bits of plant tissue

The Chaparral Plants
the chaparral animals
examples include quail, lizards, chipmunks, mule deer

most animals utilize camouflage (shape or coloring) to blend into the environment

The Chaparral Animals
threats to the chaparral
human development of the land for both commercial & residential use

humans like the area because of the mild climate year-round, proximity to oceans, and the large amounts of sunlight

Threats to the Chaparral
areas that receive less than 25cm of precipitation a year

have little or no vegetation

extreme temperatures

located at several latitudes covering 1/5 of the Earth’s landmasses

located near large mtn. ranges that block the passage of moisture-filled clouds

desert examples
hot deserts

Sonora Desert, Arizona

Sahara, Africa


cold deserts

Gobi Desert, China



Desert Examples
desert plants
all plants must be adapted to obtain & conserve water

some plants even die & drop their seeds when the conditions get too dry

the seeds remain dormant until the next rainfall when they quickly germinate & grow

some can even survive when their water content drops to only 30% of their mass

Desert Plants
other adaptations
succulents - such as cactuses – have thick fleshy stems & leaves to store water

waxy coatings to reduce water loss

sharp spines or thorns to keep thirsty animals away

plant roots that spread out just under the sand to absorb as much rain as possible

Other Adaptations
desert animals
reptiles – like the Gila monster, rattlesnakes, & lizards – have thick scaly skin to prevent water loss

amphibians – like the spadefoot toad – survive the high temps by ESTIVATING (burying themselves in the ground and sleeping through the dry season)

desert insects & spiders are covered in body armor to retain water

most creatures are nocturnal to avoid the heat of the day

Desert Animals
located north of the Arctic Circle

very short summers

topsoil thaws out during the summer months creating a pattern of bogs & swamps across the land

below the topsoil is PERMAFROST – permanently frozen ground

constant winds

tundra vegetation
dominated by tough grasses, lichens, herbs, & small shrubs that grow close to the ground

soil is extremely thin – wide, shallow roots anchor plants against the icy winds

lichens & mosses don’t even need soil to grow

plants try to absorb heat from the sunlit soil

Tundra Vegetation
tundra animals
summer wet areas are breeding grounds for huge numbers of swarming insects like mosquitoes & black flies

many migratory birds feed on these insects

some herbivores are temporary summer visitors like caribou, deer, & moose plus the wolves that hunt them

Tundra Animals
tundra animals1
some very well insulated creatures stay year-round, like arctic foxes, arctic hares, ptarmigan, & lemmings

although they may burrow to escape the cold, they are still active during the winter, often growing white fur to camouflage themselves in the winter snow

Tundra Animals
threats to the tundra
very fragile biome

simple food chains can be easily disrupted and lead to the demise of the other species

land is easily damaged & slow to recover

until recently, most areas were undisturbed by human activities – until oil was discovered

Threats to the Tundra
threats to the tundra1
oil exploration, extraction, & transport has been particularly disruptive to plants and animals

pollution from spills or leaks of oil & other toxic materials can lead to the poisoning of food & water sources

Threats to the Tundra