Wild Tracks

On behalf of the world's wild species

Grassland Ecosystems

As the name implies, grasslands are open spaces in which a variety of grasses grow, with only a few trees scattered near rivers and streams. The amount of annual rainfall influences the type of vegetation – not enough to support a forest but enough to prevent it from becoming a desert. Grasslands are found on every continent except Antarctica.

Grasslands are known in different regions of the world by different names – prairies, pampas, steppes, and savannah among others. They are divided into two types – Tropical and Temperate.

Effects of Global Warming on Grasslands
One of the more dramatic effects of climate change on grasslands could be an increase in the amount and frequency of rainfall which would encourage the growth of trees and other rainforest plants, thus destroying the balance of life in the tropical grasslands of the world. Along with the destruction of plants, many animals would not be able to compete or adapt to the new food supply and would become extinct.

The full effect of climate change are not yet understood. Conversely, another of the possible dangers facing the grasslands is extreme drought. The plants living there survive on the very little water, but if the amount of precipitation drops, the grasslands will turn into deserts.

A lowering in the quality of the grasses is also predicted because of a decline in soil carbon and nitrogen as a result of temperature and rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.

Scientists also predict that the types of vegetation found in grasslands will change as a result of global warming. The most current dominant plant species in this ecosystem will die off and be replaced by foreign species, making the regions more susceptible to drought and grazing. This change could be catastrophic to the local animals who could possibly not be able to adapt to the new types of vegetation.

Grassland Ecosystem References:

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