Grasses are signature plant forms of the savanna biome, while small shrubs and trees are found to a lesser extent. It usually presents a warm climate all the year round.
Savanna refers to the tropical grassland biome, which extends over large areas. The term itself is derived from the Arawak word for ‘treeless lands having grasses’. It is known by varied local names in different regions: the Savannah in Africa, Prairie in North America, Rangelands in Australia and Steppes in Asia. Also known as tropical grassland, savanna is an intermediary biome between the richly vegetated rainforest and the least hospitable desert. Let’s look into some obvious facts about the savanna biome.
Savanna Biome: Facts and Information
Needless to remind, the dominant vegetation in the savanna biome comprises wild grasses of various species. They are basically tall grasses of about 3-6 feet and grow in huge clumps. The prevailing climatic conditions are such that, it cannot support the growth of thick forests like the rainforest and temperate forest. In grassland biome, the short rainy season coincides with the onset of active growth period for the vegetation.
Highlighted below are some interesting savanna facts.
- There is no distinctive geographical region for the savanna biome. It is found scattered in the tropical areas of the world, where the prevailing climate can support growth of tall grasses, and some shrubs and trees.
- One of the obvious tropical savanna biome facts is that the trees found in this grassland are resistant to drought and poor soil. Major types of trees adapted to this biome are pine, palm and acacia amongst others.
- Talking about savanna biome climate, the annual precipitation is recorded to be 30 – 50 inches. Both wet season and dry season are prevalent in the tropical grassland. The average temperatures are 61° F and 91° F in the wet and dry spells, respectively.
- In the tropical grassland biome, the upper soil layer that supports plant growth is relatively less. Unlike the tropical rainforest and temperate deciduous forest, the soil of savanna biome is less fertile. No wonder, grasses are the dominant plant forms.
- Based on the specific vegetation found in the biome, savanna is further categorized into varied ecoregions. The African savanna biome represents both grasslands and shrublands. Thus, it belongs to tropical and subtropical savanna.
- Likewise, savanna ecosystems where summers are wet and winters are dry are listed under the temperate ecoregions. Other categories include the Mediterranean savanna (mid-latitude), montane savanna (high altitude) and flooded savanna.
- Again based on the dominant grasses, the tropical grassland is divided into three types – the tall grassland representing tall grasses of more than 5 feet, the mixed grassland with 2 – 3 feet tall grasses and the short grassland having dwarf grasses.
- The plants found in tropical grasslands are adapted to prolonged drought conditions. Most of them have taproot system, which penetrates deep into the soil for water absorption. Also, the leaves drop in dry season, so as to hinder transpiration and conserve moisture.
- Just like water conservation, the plants do store nutrients for use in dry season. Thus, many of the savanna plants have large underground roots, in the form of corms and tubers. In order to discourage herbivores from grazing, the grasses secrete bitter tasting substances or the leaves are too stiff to chew.
- Giving due importance to the vegetation and food availability in the savanna, herbivores largely contribute to the animal population of this biome. The list of animals include gazelle, elephant, giraffe, wildebeest, buffalo, impala and zebra.
- Despite the not so hospitable climatic conditions, the tropical grassland supports the largest diversity of herbivorous animals. This is one of the savanna biome fun facts that astonishes animal conservationists all over the world.
- Where there are herbivores, you can always expect a list of carnivores too. After all, it is nature’s formula to balance the ecosystem and maintain the food web. Carnivorous animals that feed on the savanna herbivores are leopard, cheetah, hyena, jackal and lion.
- An adaptive feature spotted in savanna biome animals is longer legs. They are meant for migrating over longer distances at times of prolonged drought spells and similar unfavorable climatic conditions. The same is applicable for birds with long wings.
- The impressive part with the grassland vegetation is, it remains undisturbed by forest fires, which is not so with the forests. Even after the upper plant portion gets burnt, they can restore normal growth via the underground buds and roots.
If the annual precipitation of grasslands is reduced, it would transform into a desert. Similarly, higher annual rainfall, and the savanna will turn into a forest. Much like other biomes of the world, the savanna too receives human threats. People use it for rearing domesticated cattle and livestock, which lead to gradual reduction of the grassland area. Sooner or later, the particular inhabited area transforms into a deserted land.