By Sarah O'Hara Tropical Savanna Biome
The tropical savanna is generally found in regions dominated by the wet-dry tropical climate. The tropical savanna is a biome characterized by tall grasses and occasional trees. Large regions of tropical savanna extend through the nations of Botswana, Namibia, and Kenya in Africa, southern Brazil, India, and Australia. Where are tropical savannas located?
An extensive cover of tall grasses, sometimes reaching a height of 3 meters, is found in the tropical savanna. Most savanna grass is coarse and grows in tufts with intervening patches of bare ground. Scattered, individual trees or small groves of trees are common. The umbrella shaped Acacia tree is a notable species of the Savanna biome. Trees do not dominate the biome because the small amount of high sun rainfall is not enough to sustain such vegetation. In eastern Africa where precipitation is higher, savanna vegetation is maintained by periodic fires. Fires burn back the forest and stimulates the growth of grasses like that which occurs in the prairie grasslands. Savannas, like those found in Venezuela and Brazil, develop on soils that have a hard crust and are subject to cracking. Tree flourish where their roots can follow the cracks down to water held deep beneath the surface. Grasses grow in the crust above. What kind of vegetation do you find in the tropical savanna?
Fire: After the five month long dry season, lightning storms swirl violently over the plains, igniting the parched vegetation. These fires can be prolific, clearing huge tracks of grasses and saplings. The grasses grow back quickly, but millennia of fires like these have selected a small number of fire resistant trees and shrubs that are constantly kept in check by the annual fires. Soil: The soils of the tropical grasslands are relatively impermeable, causing the heavy rains to skim along the surface instead of soaking deeply into the ground. Herbivory: Animals also keep the density of non-poacean plants at a relatively low level. The herbivores of the African savanna, for example, have evolved to fill specific nichesin which they consume plant material at different levels of the ecosystem. Giraffes and elephants browse the upper and middle levels of leafy trees, respectively, while wildebeests and zebras graze on different levels of grasses. The large herds of ungulates roaming the plains are also restrictive to growth. What makes a tropical savanna look like it does?
In tropical savannas you will find lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, and jackals, aardvarks, elephants, giraffes, antelopes, zebra, baboons, eagles, ostriches, weaver birds, storks, and termites. What kind of animals do you find in the tropical savanna biome?
Temperatures in savannas vary according to the season. In the dry season temperatures can be either extremely hot or cool. In the wet season temperatures are warm. Savannas are typically dry receiving less than 30 inches of rain on average per year. Tropical savannas may receive as much as 50 inches of rain in the wet season, but as little as 4 inches during the dry season. The dry climate combined with the extreme heat in the dry season makes savannas ripe areas for grass and brush fires. What’s the temperature like?
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