Grassland

Landon Morreale

Where Grasslands are located

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Location

Did you know that grasslands are found on every continent besides Antarctica? About one quarter of the Earth is covered in grasslands. In the map above we are actually pretty close to some grasslands, it looks like they run through western Texas and the northern USA. Tropical Grasslands are hot all year due to the fact that they are close to the equator. Temperate Grasslands are farther from the equator so they don't get as hot as Tropical Grasslands, Temperate Grasslands are like US prairies, they have hot summers and harsh winters.

General Characteristics

There are three types of grasslands located in the US, they are:


Tall Grass Prairies- These grasses can grow up to 5 feet tall, and about 30 inches of rain each year!


Mixed Grass Prairies- Grasses here grow from 2 to 3 feet tall, and get an annual rainfall of 15 to 25 inches. Also, the buffalo once roamed the prairies.


Short Grass Prairies- The maximum height go these grasses are only 2 feet tall, the annual rainfall is barely over 10 inches. Prairie dogs are common in these areas.

Abiotic Factors

Climate And weather

Grasslands can get as hot as 100 degrees Fahrenheit and as cold as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. They have hot summers and cold winters and average about 10 to 35 inches of rain per year. In spring time is when plants grow, like our spring. Also in winter they cannot plant anything due to the fact that it is too cold for any plant to survive.

Temperature

The winter of grasslands can get down to about -40 degrees Fahrenheit. In summer it can get to be as hot as 70 degrees Fahrenheit. But if we break it down into the two types of grasslands, Tropical Grasslands are hot all year around, and Temperate Grasslands are hot during the summer and have harsh winters.

Precipitation

Annually grasslands receive about 10 to 30 inches of rain. If it got more rain than that, it would turn into a forest, if it got any less than that it would become a desert. Most grasslands are near deserts and forest or they are between them. Grasslands are tied for third with taiga, for the most rainfall per year.

Bodies of Water

Grasslands are not fully covered in bodies of water, they are covered in grass (of course). But yes there are a few bodies of water here and there but they are not found everywhere you look. Trees are usually found near bodies of water, they would not survive without the water it needs.

Rolling Hills

Really that is what makes up most of the terrain in grasslands, the hills. If you were to go to one you would just see hill after hill after hill. Some people actually refer grasslands to " an ocean of grass" due to the fact that there is grass everywhere and the hills look like waves.

Soil

Grasslands have very rich and deep soil, deep soil is just soil that is deep down under the grass. Due to the deep and rich soil, plants have long roots and grow really well. Grasslands can actually survive a fire, the deep roots just grow back again. Same thing with herds eating the grass, the deep roots just grow them back.

Biotic Factors

Plants

Purple Coneflower- These flowers can grow up to 3 feet tall, it has a huge red-orange center and purple,white, or red petals. The center is about the size of a kids fist. The purple coneflower is apart of the daisy and dandelion family. The flower are known for getting rid of bacteria, that is why they are used today to help treat fevers, infections, toothaches, etc. In fact some Native Americans used this plant to get rid of the effects of a snake they got bitten by.
Fleabane- These are tiny plants only growing about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide, but they have a height of 4-30 inches high. The centers are yellow, but on the other hand the pedals can be white or pinkish. There can also be up to about 100 pedals on these plants. They have hairy leaves and the leaves can has pointed tips or be oval shaped.
Stinging Nettle- When you are looking at this plant it looks like a hairy weed with little flowers on it, but don't be fooled by its looks. When this plant is touched by bare skin, it gives the person who touched it a sting that feels like a bee sting. If you are stung bad enough then you will probably need treatment for the sting. If it is a minor sting and you get home quick enough then you can probably treat it on your own with some house hold medication.
June Grass- June Grass is a green and silver grass that grows about 1-2 feet. Along its lower stem, June Grass has half inch hair. The bottom part of the stem is hollow inside, the plant also grows straight up. June Grass grows best in areas that gets 10 inches of rain annually,it also grows better in sandy soil but it will also grow in clay. June Grass is usually eaten by grazing animals or birds that feed on its seeds.
Big Bluestem Grass- This grass is referred to "turkey feet" because of the odd shape is has. The name comes from the fact that it grows very big, it actually grows from 3 to 10 feet! The hairy blades which can get up to 1 foot long will start to turn red as they get older, they will also turn a bronze-ish color in the fall. Due to the fact that these plants grow really tall, they tend to block sunlight from other plants, which makes the other plants stop growing. This is the case when you see large amounts of Big Bluestem Grasses covered in one area.

Animals

Bumble Bees- Bumble bees are black and yellow insects that help out in a process called "pollination". These animals only tend to grow about 1 inch long. Most people are actually afraid of bees, but the best thing to do is either stay as still as possible or just don't mess with it, if you do those things the bee is totally harmless. The only time when they tend to sting is either when people horse around and try to "kill them" or they just plain out mess with them. When a queen bee lays eggs, it tends to lay 5-10 eggs, the queen lays all the eggs on a pile of pollen. When the eggs hatch the newborns are now called "larvae". They feed on the pollen until the queen takes care of them herself. Then they are old and mature now and can do what normal bees do.
Coyotes- Coyotes are actually part of the dog family, most people think that they look like a mean, blood-thirsty wolf but they actually are not. Fully grown males can be from 18-44 pounds, while females are only 7-18 pounds. They are about 4 feet long (including the tail). Females are pregnant for about 60 days, and usually give birth to about 5 or 6 pups. Coyotes have excellent hearing, their ears move back and forth helping it listen to any food crawling around. Coyotes are referred as "hunters not hunted". Coyotes are animals that cannot be defeated.
Bobcat- A fully grown bobcat averages about 33 pounds and is about 26-42 inches long. Also they are about 2 feet tall, these cats are no fun when they have a hold of you. They first of all have VERY sharp claws and teeth, also they have fur that is very good for camouflage so you probably wouldn't even see it coming. In fact their camouflage is so well that even other animals don't see it coming. Like the coyote, bobcats make their ears move back and forth to listen for their next meal. Bobcats can run up to 30 miles per hour but they prefer to walk. Bobcats eat up to a variety of food, including small sick deer, turkeys, rats, and its favorite food are rabbits. These animals are not endangered but there are some certain areas with not too many of them, an estimated 1 million of them live in the US and Canada. As many as 80,000 get trapped for their fur every year, only 37 stated allow this though..
Prairie Dogs- A prairie dog is an animal that looks like a squirrel and has a "yip" like a dog. Full grown prairie dogs average about 1 to 3.5 pounds, there are also two types of prairie dogs. One that is more common is the black-tailed prairie dog, while the other one is called the white-tailed prairie dog. The range of prairie dogs is about from Canada to northern Mexico. The prairie dogs live in places called "burrows" and if they're tall weeds by the burrow then they will chew on them so they can see incoming predators, this is why they live in "short-grass areas". Female prairie dogs can live up to 8 years, while the males only live up to 5 years, male prairie dogs mature around 2 years. Females are pregnant about 34- 37 days and give birth to 1-6 babies. The babies leave the burrow after about a month and a half. Back then in 25,000 square miles, there were about 400,000 prairie dogs, that number has shrunken over time. If you go to the right spot, there even might be some trying to take a glimpse at you without you even knowing.
American Bald Eagle- This is the bird of our country, it has a white head and is known as the "sea eagle". It is a big bird that has very strong muscles, they can pick up to five pounds. The average weight of these birds is about 8 to 12 pounds, while the wingspan is about 2 meters. They can also be larger than 1 meter from head to tail. The sharp talons on its feet help get a nice grip on its prey. While the sharp beak helps to tear open its prey and eat it. More than half of Bald Eagles actually live in Alaska, some others lives in taigas and the other percentage are just kind of spread out all over the country. While it can eat chickens and live fish, it prefers to only eat dead animals so it doesn't have to go through all the trouble of trying to fetch it then tear it open then eat it. They will steal food from other eagles, but they can also change their diet depending on where they live. They were intact endangered before, until we started to keep them safe back in 2000.
Most grassland areas are being put away by the creation of urban areas (cities). They are also being used for farmland and that is how they are getting affected. In fact 25% of grasslands were put away by putting urban areas where they are. Not only the land is in danger but the animals are also too, some farmers actually think prairie dogs are animals that want to hurt their cattle. As a conclusion the farmers end up killing the prairie dogs (which is illegal). Poaching actually goes on in some grasslands as well, that also cuts down the number of animals. Some people poach just for animal fur or they think it is "fun" hunting animals without permission. When we make new urban centers, people are destroying the homes of these poor animals just to make room for themselves. Most animals go homeless and end up dying from the cause. Car pollution also effects in a negative way, by polluting the air with harmful gases. The way people say we can save grasslands are by recycling our trash, and riding a bike to where ever we need to go, carpooling, etc. In the picture I have added to this text, you can see how the animals home is completely gone, all he has is the ashes of his old home.
I have added a video about grasslands and what they look like, click on the link to watch the video