The temperate grassland biome may not be as diverse as its tropical counterpart, but that doesn't make it less interesting ... or less important for that matter.
The grassland biome is an ecosystem wherein the vegetation is usually dominated by various types of grasses, some as tall as 5 - 6 ft., and shrubs. This biome is broadly categorized into two sub-divisions on the basis of their latitudinal location:
Tropical grassland biome
Temperate grassland biome
When we talk about this biome, we most often picture the African Savannah or American Prairies. While the Savannah is an apt example of tropical grassland, Prairies are temperate grasslands. Both differ from each other by a significant extent.
Facts about Temperate Grasslands
The grasslands, which include the Prairies of North America, Pampas of South America, and the Steppes of Eurasia, are located in the mid-latitudes. They are further divided on the basis of their general characteristics. The best example of this is the Prairie biome of North America.
In semi-arid the regions with short grasses are known as Short-grass Prairies, and the regions with high rainfall with tall grasses are known as Tall-grass Prairies.
Basically, the location determines the climate of an area. The temperature falls as we move from the equator towards the poles, so tropical grasslands are warmer than their temperate counterparts. The semi-arid climate of temperate grasslands is typically characterized warm and hot seasons, and annual precipitation ranging between 10 - 20 inches.
A significant portion of this precipitation is in the form of snow, which acts as a water reservoir for summer season when most of the grasslands go dry.
These grasslands are less diverse as compared to tropical grasslands. However, there do exist quite a few species which are endemic to this biome. The list of temperate grassland animals is dominated by herbivorous animals ranging from small rodents to large grazing mammals.
Some of the most common animals include herbivores such as bison, zebras, rhinos, deer, etc., and carnivores such as the cheetahs, wolves, Prairies dogs, coyotes, etc. Besides these, there also exist small mammals, insects, and birds.
If animal adaptations are taken into consideration, most of these animals have same features as their tropical grasslands counterparts: flat-topped teeth to eat grass, sharp claws to burrow, etc.
The various grasses and shrubs found in here forms their basic identity.There are lesser tress than in a tropical grassland. These grasslands also boast of having fertile soil, which plays a key role in the growth of myriad species of grass in this biome.
Some of the most common species native to this region include buffalo grass, goldenrods, Johnson grass, gamma grass, crazy weed, Blazing stars, etc.
Human encroachment on pretext of agriculture has surfaced as a major threat for this biome over the last few years. These vast open lands with fertile soils are being converted into farmlands and ranches at an alarming rate―a practice which will eventually reduce this biome to several pockets and affect its biodiversity.