The Grassland Food Web: Temperate, African & Tropical

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  • 0:00 Characteristics of Grasslands
  • 0:52 Temperate Grasslands
  • 1:23 African and Tropical…
  • 2:13 Food Chains and Food Webs
  • 3:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ebony Potts

Ebony has taught middle and high school physical science, life science & biology. She's also been an assistant principal and has a doctorate in educational administration.

Have you ever heard of a grassland before? Did you know that there is more than one type of grassland? In this lesson, you will learn some specifics about different types of grasslands and the interactions between the organisms that inhabit them.

Characteristics of Grasslands

Grassland ecosystems are located on every continent except Antarctica. Depending on where you are, the ecosystem has many different names: grasslands, steppes, savannas, pampas, and shrub lands. They all share many similar characteristics. Some characteristics that all grasslands share are as follows:

  • Reoccurring fires
  • Grasses are the dominant producer
  • Sparse or no tree cover present
  • Periods of drought followed by rainy seasons
  • Many grazing animals

Although all grasslands share the characteristics we just went through, there are some definite differences between each type. Since there are so many, we will focus our attention on just three types of grasslands: temperate, African, and tropical.

Temperate Grasslands

Temperate grasslands are found worldwide. Unlike some of the other grasslands, the absence of tree and shrub cover is evident. Temperatures and rainfall fluctuate more here than in other grasslands, which affects the plants and animals that live here as well. Rainfall usually happens in the late spring and early summer months, and on average this area receives 20-30 inches per year. You can find Johnson grass, bison, rabbits, owls and skunks in this ecosystem.

African & Tropical Grasslands

You can find African savannas in Africa, South America, India, and Australia. The terms African grassland, savanna, and tropical grasslands are very often substituted for one another. We will refer to them as savannas from here on to lessen confusion. Savannas have one major characteristic that separates them from the other grasslands; that being a very prominent dry season. While all the grasslands have a dry season, the savanna has the longest yearly drought of all of the grassland types. This affects the types of plants and animals that can live here. In the savanna area, you will find sparse tree and shrub cover and 20-50 inches of rain in one rainy season. In this environment, you can find elephants, giraffe, rhinos, and zebras.

Food Chains and Food Webs & the Grassland

A food chain is a linear, single-direction diagram of the feeding interactions between organisms of an area. A food chain shows what each organism eats and gets eaten by. A combination of multiple food chains that show feeding relationships of an area in a multi-linear, multi-directional way is called a food web. A food web gives a better overall idea of how organisms interact in an ecosystem.

Most food chains and food webs contain some or all of the following:

  • Producers: plants in an ecosystem
  • Herbivores: plant eaters
  • Omnivores: eat both plants and animals
  • Carnivores: eat only animals

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