Grazing for Facts on Grasslands

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The word grassland does a good job of explain what it is, as grasslands are pieces of land with grass on them. The grass can be high or low, and trees or shrubs can be part of the grassland. The soil may be capable of supporting trees, it is just that fires periodically burn away all the trees, leaving only the quick growing grass around.

Fact 1: Most ecoregions on Earth have grasslands, as do all continents except Antarctica. These can be 1 of 5 terrestrial ecoregion classifications: Tropical and subtropical, temperate, flooded, montane or tundra, desert and xeric.

Fact 2: Tropical and subtropical grasslands are grasslands, shrublands, and savannas that appear in tropical or subtropical areas.

Fact 3: Temperate grasslands include the Prairie of North America. They provide food and habitat to large herbivores and the predators of those herbivores. This includes bison, coyotes, prairie dogs, zebras, rhinoceroses and hyenas.

Fact 4: Flooded grasslands can be covered with water seasonally, or year-round, and may be considered a wetland. The source of the flooding determines the water will be salt or fresh, and may be both, in the case of estuaries.

Fact 5: Montane grasslands are found at high altitudes, such as mountain ranges. When combined with short growing seasons and colder temperatures, as is found in mountains, these may also be known as tundra. Tundra or steppe-tundra are large portions of the northern hemisphere that were covered in grass during the Pleistocene ice ages. Today, the soil may be too moist to support much grass, though there will be some hardy species.

Fact 6: The deserts and xeric shrublands biome does not have the loose sand of famous deserts. The ground will be dry, but more compact than sand. The grass and shrubs will be sparse, home to tumbleweeds and cacti.

Fact 7: Grasslands can exist in places from -20 to 30 degrees Celsius, though most prefer between -5 and 20 degrees. The annual precipitation rate is more important than temperature, as 24 to 59 inches are needed. Low soil fertility actually allows a greater range of grass species to live in a grassland, which is known as species richness.  

Fact 8: Intensive grazing by livestock can disturb the grassland worse than a fire, as the livestock might eat down to the root of the plant. As the grasslands were used for grazing by increasing numbers of livestock, the plants were replaced by crops. This replaced the species richness with only one species of crop, such as wheat, and undermined the ecosystem.

Fact 9: Unimproved grasslands can be either natural or semi-natural, and most extant grasslands are semi-natural. Even if the area was not given over to farming, the interference of humans was known in some way. Cutting or grazing would reduce or remove the natural vegetation, which might not be able to return.

Fact 10: Anthropogenic grasslands are areas that have been cultivated as grasslands by human activity. Regularly, fires would be set in the area to keep out the trees and shrubs, allowing the human hunters to hunt the wildlife that feed there. Later, after the Neolithic Period, this same technique would be used to create areas to raise domestic livestock.

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One Response

  1. bruno

    January 31, 2014 7:34 am

    It is truly a nice and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.


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