UPSC Exam   »   The Grasslands of the World

The Grasslands of the World

 

The Grasslands of the World: Relevance

  • GS 1: Salient features of world’s physical geography

 

What are Grasslands?

  • In its narrow sense, grassland may be defined as ground covered by vegetation dominated by grasses, with little or no tree cover.
  • UNESCO defines grassland as “land covered with herbaceous plants with less than 10 percent tree and shrub cover” and wooded grassland as 10-40 percent tree and shrub cover.
  • Grassland ecosystems are particularly fragile because water is scarce.

 

Where grasslands are found?

  • Grassland occurs where there is sufficient moisture for grass growth, but where environmental conditions, both climatic and anthropogenic, prevent tree growth.
  • Its occurrence, therefore, correlates with a rainfall intensity between that of desert and forest and is extended by grazing or fire to form a plagioclimax in many areas that were previously forested.

 

The Grasslands of the World_40.1

 

Characteristic features of grasslands

  • Short plants: Grasslands normally has very short growing season as the climate is dry and the soil is poor. These conditions inhibit the growth of woody and large trees, and favours the growth of small plants like grass and shrubs.
  • Fast growing grass: Grasses have the tendency to grow back in spite of grazing or overgrazing. Moreover, most of the grass species can grow back quickly after a fire has swept through the Grassland, and some have seeds that can grow after being burned in a fire.
  • Mostly Hot and Dry Areas: Nearly all large grasslands are hot, at least in summer, and dry. In general, Tropical Grasslands receive 500 to 1,500 mm of about 15° to 35° C.
  • Change in appearance: Grasslands change their appearance throughout the year. While, in winter Grasslands look drab and lifeless. A similar change can be seen in tropical grasslands where the onset of the rainy season changes the landscape from dull brown to bright green.

 

Important grasslands of the world: Types of grasslands

Grasslands can majorly be divided into two parts:

  • Tropical Grasslands and,
  • Temperate Grasslands

 

The Grasslands of the World_50.1

 

Tropical Grasslands of the world

  • Tropical Grasslands are located near the equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  • Tropical Grasslands are generally found in the interior part of continents between the Tropical Rain Forests and Tropical Deserts.
  • Tropical Grasslands are also known as ‘Savannahs’. They have a tropical continental climate where wet and dry seasons come alternately.
  • The tropical grasslands have short plants, which makes them an excellent hunting ground.
  • Example
    • East Africa- Savanna
    • Brazil- Campos
    • Venezuela- Llanos

 

Temperate Grasslands of the world

  • Temperate Grasslands consists of Grasses and/or shrubs.
  • The climate is temperate and semi-arid to semi-humid.
  • Temperate grasslands differ largely from Tropical Grasslands in the annual temperature regime as well as the types of Species found here.
  • Normally, these regions are devoid of trees, except for riparian or gallery Forests associated with streams and rivers.
  • Moreover, the soil here is fertile with rich nutrients and minerals.
  • Temperate grasslands suffer from extreme climates.
    • In the cold season, the temperature can reach up to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. While in the summer season it can reaches up to 90 degrees in some areas.
  • Moreover, the precipitation in these grasslands is majorly in the form of dew and snow.
  • Examples
    • Argentina- Pampas
    • America- Prairie
    • South Africa- Veld
    • Asia- Steppe
    • Australia- Down

 

Different grasslands of the world

Below are some of the famous grasslands of the world which is very important for many competitive examinations, including Civil Services.

Grasslands of the world with names

Grasslands Region
Steppe Europe and North Asia
Pustaz Hungary
Prairies USA
Pampas Argentina
Veld South Africa
Downs Australia
Canterbury New Zealand
Savannah Africa and Australia
Taiga Europe and Asia

 

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