Grassland are generally semi-arid
areas with little or no trees, and are inhabited by grazing
mammals, ground-nesting birds, insects, and a few species of
reptiles. Grassland are found around the world and fall
within the following categories:
Prairies are generally humid
and are densely covered in tall grass. There are very few
trees on prairies, most of them usually found on hill slopes or
more humid near springs and rivulets. The prairie soil is
rich in nutrients and is ideal for the growth of plant life,
which is why prairie regions have been exploited by farmers for
centuries. Grazing animals such as oxen and bison who fed
on the prairie grass were also exploited by humans, with the
bison being driven to near extinction by hunters.
steppe grassland is usually found in areas of the world which
are less prone to moisture. Steppe vegetation is well suited to
this drier climate, and the grass is generally shorter than that
which is found on prairie grasslands. Animal
life on the steppe is comprised of grazing mammals such as the
antelope, and a wide variety of burrowing mammals such as ground
squirrels and ferrets.
Steppes are virtually semi-arid
deserts in the making, and are highly threatened by overgrazing.
Savanna biomes are
distinguished by their warmer drier climates, and their seasonal
Savanna plant life is highly
adapted to the hot and dry climate, with trunks that can
store water for days, or special built-in mechanisms allowing
the plant to lie dormant during periods of drought.
Another variant of this
grassland biome is the Tropical Savanna, which is
perhaps the most ecologically diverse of the grasslands; here,
several species of animals including birds, mammals, reptiles,
and insects congregate and feed upon the trees and grass or each
other. One good example of the tropical savanna is found
in Africa, where lions, elephants and warthogs make their home.
Again, humans have exploited
many of the animals of the savanna biome, either for sport, fur,
or illegal poaching. Rhinos and elephants are now
endangered species due to the illegal trading of their horns and
tusks. Frequent fires have also contributed to the
diminishing savanna biome, and though most occur because of the
dry heat, they are more frequent in areas populated by humans.