Grassland biomes
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GRASSLAND BIOMES - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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GRASSLAND BIOMES. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE - CHAPTER 8. GRASSLANDS. Grasses feed thousands all over the world. Grasses are found on every continent on Earth. All grains (wheat, rice, oats) are grasses. Grasses can survive vast temperature changes (from -25 o C to 70 o C). . GRASSLAND DEFINED.

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Grassland biomes




  • Grasses feed thousands all over the world.

  • Grasses are found on every continent on Earth.

  • All grains (wheat, rice, oats) are grasses.

  • Grasses can survive vast temperature changes (from -25oC to 70oC).

Grassland defined

  • Grassland - ecosystem with more water than a desert but not enough to support a forest

  • Found in every continent Africa, central Asia, North America, South America, Australia EXCEPT Antarctica

  • Desert-grassland boundary – rainfall amount determines whether land becomes desert or grassland

Grassland organisms
Grassland Organisms

  • Most common plants are grasses

  • Most of the grass plant is underground (roots)

  • This protects the grasses from fire and drought.

    Ex: A single rye plant can grow as tall as 2 meters and have roots spread out as far as 600 km!

Grassland facts

  • Rainfall is the most important abiotic limiting factor.

  • Rainfall amount determines the kinds of grasses and how tall they will grow.

    Ex: less rain = short/fine-leaf grasses

    more rain = tall/broad-leaf grasses

  • Temperature ranges from -25oC to 70oC


    eliminate competing trees and shrubs

    clear away all dead grasses that build up

    release nutrients and minerals from the soil

    help some grass seeds to germinate

Grassland facts1
Grassland Facts

  • Biotic factors can also affect grassland organisms.

    Ex: Large populations of grazing animals will prevent trees and shrubs from growing around a grassland pond

    Two seasons:

    Rainy seasons – short cycles of heavy rain

    Drought seasons – longer periods of little or no rain

    Ex: Savanna in Africa has both rainy and drought seasons

Steppe facts
Steppe Facts

Steppes –

  • gets less than 50 cm rain per year -most rain evaporates quickly

  • found on western and southwestern edges of deserts

  • Have high winds

  • Broad temperature range from -5oC to 30oC

Steppe plants
Steppe Plants

  • Bunchgrasses are short fine-blade grasses that grow in a clump

  • Short fine blades of grass and clumping the roots prevent water loss

  • Use high winds to help disperse plant seeds to new growing areas

  • Roots can grow as deep as 50 cm

  • Freeze resistant

Steppe animals
Steppe Animals

  • Adaptations to grassland include migrating, hibernating and burrowing underground.

  • Graze on grass late afternoon to early morning (hot) .

  • Burrow underground during the cold periods

  • Migrate with the availability of grasses

Mongolian horse


Bactrian camel

Steppe wildcat

Prairie facts
Prairie Facts

  • Grasslands characterized by rolling hills, plains and sod formation

  • Rainfall is 50-75 cm per year

  • Soil holds water – grass roots form mats with the soil called sod

  • When the sod grasses die they form high nutrient organic material called humus

Prairie plants
Prairie Plants

  • Grasses form sod mats

  • Hold water well

  • Wind disperse grass seeds

  • Grasses aren’t harmed by large populations of herbivores because of their adaptation of migration.

Prairie animals
Prairie Animals

  • Prairies support large populations of herbivores

  • Animals use migration, hibernation and burrowing as adaptations to the temperature extremes

  • Prairie animals help the prairie biome ecosystem. Large populations of prairie dogs (rodents) create “towns”- a series of connecting underground burrows

  • Towns help aerate the soil


Prairie chicken

Prairie fox

Prairie dogs

Black-footed ferret

American dust bowl

  • 1934-1938 an estimated 2.5 million people were forced to leave their farms and ranches.

  • Major environmental disaster (150,000 square miles of soil loss, dust storms )

  • Causes: strong winds combined with poor farming practices and drought

  • Locations: Montana, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Mexico


  • Tropical grasslands ranging from dry scrubland to wet, open woodland.

  • Mainly in central Africa, with small areas in India, southeastern Asia, northern Australia, llanos in Venezuela and Campos in Brazil

  • Short rainy seasons followed by long periods of drought

Savanna plants
Savanna Plants

  • Plants must be resistant to heat, drought, fires and grazing animals.

  • Adaptations include:

    Rapid growth – savanna plants grow quickly.

    Runners – long horizontal stems above and below the ground – plants spread quickly and are protected from fire.

    Tufts – are large clumps of tall coarse grasses.

    Thorns – trees and shrubs grow spike like thorns or sharp leaves to prevent herbivores from eating them.

    Ex: Trees - Acacia, Baobab, Grasses - Rhodes, red oak, elephant, star and lemon , Shrubs – aloe candelabra tree

    Baobab tree only has leaves in the short rainy season.

    Acacia trees grow leaves only at the top of the branches and send out a chemical that make the leaves inedible after a giraffe eats one mouthful and one tree sends chemical signals to warn he surrounding trees.

Savanna animals
Savanna Animals

  • Must take advantage of short rainy season

  • Adaptations:

    Migrate with food availability

    Reproduce during rainy season

    Vertical feeding pattern animal height determines what plants they eat this allows many animals to occupy smaller more specific niches

    Ex: lions, cheetah, springbok, elephant, rhino, Weaver bird, secretary bird