Introduction

A grassland or savanna is a plant community in which grass species are dominant with short but scattered trees and shrubs. The grassland or savanna lies between the forest and the deserts or arid land.

Types of Grasslands

There are two major types of grasslands. These are the tropical grassland (savanna) and the temperate grassland
1. Tropical Grassland or Savanna
The tropical grassland is located around the equator, i.e., between 5o and 20o this North and South of the Equator. Areas where this grassland is found include Africa where it is called savanna, in Brazil where it is called campos, and in South America where it is called ilanos.

In Nigeria, the savanna has three major belts. These are Guinea savanna, Sudan savanna and Sahel savanna. The luxuriant nature of the grassland decreases northwards from Guinea to Sudan and finally to Sahel savanna

2. Temperate Grassland

The temperate grassland is found in the interior continents of Asia, North America, South America and South Africa where the grasses appear to be uniform

In central Europe and Russia, the grassland is called steppe, in North America, it is called prairies, in Argentina, it is called pampas, in South Africa, it is called veld and in Australia, it is called downs

Characteristics of Grassland

The grassland or savanna possesses the following characteristics:

  1.  Predominance of grasses: Grasses remain the dominant plant species in the savanna as they form over 70% of the vegetation
  2. Presence of short but scattered trees: Most trees found in savanna are short and few. In most cases, the trees are scattered within the savanna
  3. Absence of stratified canopies: Due to the presence of grasses and few trees, stratified canopies found in rain forest are absent in savanna
  4. Presence of fire resistant trees: The savanna also has trees with thick bark which make them resistant to fire
  5. Small size of leaves: Leaves of plants in the grassland are tiny and small in size to aid the plants in reducing the rate of transpiration
  6. Presence of drought resistant trees: Most trees in the savanna as a result of reduced rainfall are capable of resisting prolonged drought
  7. Presence of underground stems: Some plants in the savanna possess underground stems to enable them survive the harsh climatic conditions
  8. Presence of deep rooted plants: Most plants in the savanna have deep roots which enable them to reach out for water in the soil
  9. Presence of deciduous plants: Plants in the savanna are deciduous in nature, that is, they shed their leaves during the dry season to prevent excessive loss of water through transpiration
  10. Presence of trees with modified leaves: Most plants modified their leaves in such a way to enable them adapt to the environment

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SS2 BiologyThird Term: Grassland Or Savanna Habitats