Grasslands cover one-fifth of our earth. Long and Short Grass Prairies, Steppes, Velds, and Savannas propagate in treeless, flatter areas of all continents except Antarctica. Twelve thousand grass species make up the most prevalent plant type on earth! Fires may burn grasslands, frost may freeze their tops, but the roots and buds return. The soil in Grasslands is vibrant, and plant life can lie dormant for up to 50 years, returning with resilience to changing soil and climate conditions. We walk on or through dry, mesic, and wet prairies, harvest their grasses, eat their seeds, grow crops, and graze livestock on these grasslands. Grass growth closely connects to the ground making it easy to nibble on but not to destroy. Fifteen percent of the earth’s land surface is tropical grassland, known as savannas. Plant diversity on grasslands helps provide oxygen for our planet and store carbon. Grasslands are beautiful natural places to explore.
Activity 1 – Map The World's Grasslands
Two of the world’s most common grasslands are temperate grasslands and savannas. Temperate grassland has both summer and winter seasons with rainfall throughout the year. Temperate grasslands cover 12% of the world. Temperate grasslands have sub-regions: pampas, veld, steppe, and prairie. Prairies (from a French word for meadow grazed by cattle)are temperate grasslands In North America consisting of short, mixed, or tall grass growing on wet, mesic, or dry sites. Mesic Prairies (named for coming the Greek meso or middle) on areas with drainage and good moisture.! Giant bluestem grass, once the most common prairie grass, has been replaced by buffalo grass, blue gamma grass, and wheat grass. Savannas are grassland zones in hotter areas between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Crossing Africa, South America, India, and Australia, the climate in the savannah is warm year-round, with two to three months of rainfall during the wet season. In addition to Temperate Grasslands and Savannas, there are Desert Grasslands, Flooded Grasslands, and Montane Grasslands.
Map and label the ten most extensive grasslands in the world.
Activity 3 – Short Grass Prairies
Short Grass prairies are natural areas of grasses with less rainfall than the Tall Grass Prairies. In the United States, ankle-to-knee-high prairies grow between the Rocky Mountains and mixed-grass prairie from Alberta down to Central Texas, passing through Nebraska, western Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. The boundaries of the Short Grass to Mixed Grass prairies change seasonally with the dispersion of seeds and plant growth based on rainfall. Approximately 22% of North America’s 1.1 million sq miles of grasslands is shortgrass.
Activity 4 – Tall Grass Prairies
Tall Grass Prairies have enough rain and wetness to grow to heights of eight feet and taller. Common grasses are big bluestem, Indian Grass, Switch Grass, Prairie Cord Grass, Canadian Rye, and many more. Replanting tall grass prairies rebuilds biodiversity of habits.
Activity 5 – Savannas
Tropical grasslands, with their biodiversity of animals, surround tropical rainforests.
Activity 6 – Disappearing Grasslands
Prairie soil is fertile, making the temperate grasslands the world’s breadbaskets! 99% of US prairies are used for farming today. Natural green areas are also removed and turned into farms and cities in other countries. Depletion of grasslands removes the biodiversity of animal and insect habitats and regenerative soil and disrupts the watershed.
Activity 8 – Benefits of Preserving Prairies
Can you find a prairie in your community? Although thirteen states have grasslands, eighty-two percent are in Colorado, the Dakotas, and Wyoming. Today most of the prairie is farmed for its rich soil. Most of the prairie today is used as farmland. Wildfires, an essential part of the natural prairie cycle, are only allowed to burn in a few places, interrupting the plant process yet contributing to soil enrichment and regrowth of healthier prairies. When the natural cycle is interrupted, invasive plants take over. As people begin to understand the benefits of prairies, they work to restore them with native plants where possible, but there is still a long road ahead. Find the closest prairie. Write a paper about its history and its future. Read about Grassland Biomes. Be sure to list the benefits of its natural past, farm present, and preserved future.
- Prairies can be found on many continents.
- Savannahs generally receive ___________ rainfall than temperate grasslands.
- Prairies are endangered due to:
- Bison roam the prairies in large herds today.
- You have to water and fertilize a lawn to make it grow.
- Evolution of Grasslands
- Explore Prairies & Grasslands NPS
- Grasslands of the World Plants and Animals
- Jean Sousa Morphologies(Prairie Photos)
- Long Grass Prairie Plants
- National Grasslands
- North American Prairie
- NPS Tall Grass Prairies
- Plant a Pollinator Grassland
- Plants in Prairie Communities
- Prairie Lines Photographs by William Harper
- Prairie Nursery
- Prairie Plant Directory
- Prairies Nat Geo
- Short Grass Prairie Plants
- UWM PRAIRIE preserves
- Video Last Wild Places American Prairie Preserves
- What is a prairie?
- Woolsey Wet Prairie Santuary
- World Grasslands
- World Grasslands Map
- World Grasslands Map