Temperate Grassland Biome

Biology Research project

Weather and Climate

The climate of a temperate grassland depends greatly on how close it is to the equator or an ocean. The grasslands of the Northern Hemisphere lie halfway between the North Pole and the Equator These grasslands are also inland and unaffected by the ocean. Inland steppe's and prairie temperatures are very hot in the summer and can rise above 100 degrees. Steppe's and prairie's are also very cold in the winter. They receive relatively small amounts of rainfall annually about 12-20 inches, most falls during the summer. In the early summer they have hail and thunderstorms.

Landforms

A grassland is an area covered in large part by grass and other non-woody -- that is, not trees -- vegetative life. Grasslands occur throughout the world, except for severely cold regions such as Antarctica, and feature several land forms, depending on where the grassland is located.The land is mostly flat with some small hills

Animal Life

PREDATORS- Big cats such as cheetah's and lion's. In North America their are wolves, foxes, and coyotes. Also in the Russian grasslands their are Polecats.


GRAZERS- Buffalo, Cows, Horses, and Deer. In Africa there are Antelope, Gazelles, Zebra, and Rhino's.


SMALL MAMMALS- Mice and Jackrabbits, skunks, weasels such as Black-footed ferrets, and badgers. Several species of snakes including the harmless garder snake and poisonous rattle snake. There are prairie dogs, ground squirrels, and pocket gophers that use underground tunnels to raise their young.



Plant Life

Some types of plants found in Temperate Grasslands are Buffalo grass, rye-grass foxtail, wild oats, and purple needle grass. Also their are various types of wildflowers that grow in temperate grasslands such as, wild indigo's, clover's, sunflowers, goldenrod's, blazing stars, and asters. Big GRASSES- bluestem is the quintessential grass of the tall grass prairie. It can reach heights of 8 feet. Historically big bluestem was the preferred fodder of roaming bison populations. Prairie dropseed forms from dense clumps of vegetation It is a warm season grass. Side-oats grama gets its name from the vertical arrangement of seeds along the grass stem, It is an important range grass and can form dense sod with low competition.

LEGUMES- Butterfly weed is a legume, a plant that processes nitrogen from the atmosphere and makes it available to the grassland biome. It blooms throughout the warmer months and it attracts butterfly's and bee's. Lead-plant is considered an indicator species denoting high quality grassland's. It prefers dry soil's. It is important to wildlife, attracting bees and wasp which in turn are important food sources for birds. Purple prairie clovers prefers full sun and well draining soils. Herbivores like its sweet taste making it difficult to grow in high dense populations. It is uncommon in disturbed areas.


Plant and Animal Adaptations

ANIMALS- Some small animals adapted by burrowing into the ground to get away from predators. These mammals often have dirt colored furr so they are also camouflage.


PLANTS- Prairie grasses have adapted to the unreliable levels of precipitation by growing narrow leaves, which restrict water loss. Many grasses have taken advantage of the windy conditions and are wind pollinated, while soft stems enable them to bend in the strong winds and prevent any damage.The extensive root systems of prairie grasses prevent grazing animals from pulling roots completely out of the ground. In addition, the roots grow deep down into the ground to absorb as much water as possible. During fires, the above ground portion of grasses are destroyed while the deep roots survive to sprout again, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden website.




Animal and plant relationships

Animals-Cattle frequent grassland biomes. They graze on the short and long grasses present across the landscape. As they graze, they disturb insects in the surrounding areas. Cattle egrets have adapted to feed on the disturbed insects flushed from the grasses by the cattle. The cattle receive no benefit, but the cattle egrets benefit from the food source.Rattle is a genus of herb that is considered semiparasitic. Rattle lives on the roots of grasses and gains sustenance from feeding on the flow of nutrients and water through the roots. The presence of rattle reduces nutrient flow to the grasses and also reduces the competitive dominance of grasses, allowing other species such as herbs to grow in the grasslands. A parasitic animal, the brown-headed cowbird is native to both grassland and cropland environments. They are brood parasites, meaning that the brown-headed cowbirds lay eggs in the nests of other grassland birds and force the other species to hatch the eggs and raise the young.

Biotic Factors

Plants: As you know from the title temperate grasselands are dominated by several types of grasses. These grasses are known as perrenial grasses because with underground stems and buds these grasses are not easily destroyed by wild fires. When these grasses are eaten they are healthy because they grow so low to the ground. Also in temperate grasslands there are many wildflowers and very very little amount of trees and shrubs. There are not many trees and shrubs that are in temperate grasslands but the few there are, are destroyed easliy by fires, unlike the grasses. Some wildflowers you might see in temperate grasslands are goldenrods, sunflowers, and wild indigos.

Animals: Temperate Grasslands lack diversity in animal life especially compared to savannahs because they are so alike. Temperate grassland's animal life is mostly herbivorous vertabraes, known as ungulates (ex. antlope). Ungulates are mammals with hoofs and long legs for escaping predators. Some animals located in the North American temperate grasslands are bison, antelpope, birds, gophers, prarie dogs, coyotes, and insects. Also in the Steppes of Eurasia you could find some lynx, antelopes falcons, and foxes.

Abiotic factors

In temperate grasslands the temperatures vary greatly between seasons. In winter it is very cold. In the summer the temperatures can reach up to and over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This large range is caused mostly by the latitude of Temperate Grasslands which is about 30 degrees north or south of the equator. The yearly range of precipitation is 15-25 inches, much of which comes from snow in the winter but also comes as rain in late spring and early summer and is used as water to help start the growing season. Temperate grasslands are home to some of the richest and the darkest soil in the world. This precipitation, temperature, and soil make Temperate Grasslands one of the best biomes for farming. There are frequent fires in temperate grasslands that are started often by lightning and sometimes by human activity.

Ecological concerns or issues

The most ecologically troubling practice in the temperate grasslands is using it almost entirely for agriculture. Grasslands like the prairies of North America make excellent farm land due to high amounts of soil nutrients. For this reason, grasslands are converted into farm land and almost no natural temperate grassland remains today.