Ecology And Environment

Temperate Grasslands or Terrestrial Biomes

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Biomes are considered one of the major habitats in the world and terrestrial biomes refers to those habitats established mainly on landmasses such as continents or islands. The term ‘temperate’ is used to designate a region falling between 23.5 degrees and 60 degrees North and between 23.5 degrees and 60 degrees South of the equator. Therefore, ‘temperate grasslands’ can be defined as an area dominated by grasses located in a ‘temperate’ region. This article will further evaluate the features of a terrestrial biome, such as temperate grasslands, including aspects such as the habitat, the climate, vegetation, soil…etc.


The temperate grasslands can have a below zero temperature during the winter and could experience a summer of around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time, it only receives a mere 10 to 20 inches of precipitation a year and much of this precipitation falls as snow instead of rains. However, these parameters may change according to the latitude of the temperate grassland.


One of the major determinants of the vegetation in temperate grasslands is the amount of moisture available and when the moisture is relatively high, it can promote the growth of taller grasses whereas lower levels of moisture promotes only shorter varieties of grasses. However, most of these grasses have adapted to droughts, colder climates and fires while a firm system of roots increase its survival while preserving whatever the moisture that is received by the surrounding soil. In addition, fires and grazing also contribute towards the maintenance of such grasslands. Among the types of grasses which dominate these regions, buffalo grass, cacti, perennial grasses and clovers should be highlighted.


Interestingly, many of the world’s largest animals are found in temperate grasslands and among them, bison, horses, rhinoceros, gray kangaroos, gazelles and zebras are prominent. In addition, carnivores such as lions and wolves are also found in such grasslands while other animals such as deer, jack rabbits, skunks, dogs, snakes, foxes, coyotes…etc and multiple species of birds and insects can also be seen.


Temperate grasslands seems to have one of the most fertile soils found in anywhere in the world and the predominant process of soil formation in these regions is calcification. In addition, these soils can also be having mild leaching, high organic content, and a concentration of calcium carbonate along with various other processes and ingredients, which makes it the ideal soil. These ingredients and processes give rise to the ‘black soil’ found in such grasslands, which is known in Russian as ‘chemozems’.

-Examples of temperate grasslands

Some of the best examples of temperate grasslands include the ‘prairies’ of the central lowlands and high plains of the US and Canada, the ‘steppes’ of the Ukraine which extends through Russia and Mongolia, the ‘Pampas’ of Argentina, Uruguay and Southern Brazil, as well as the ‘veld’ of South Africa.

More about this author: Dr Pandula Siribaddana

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