Found in mid-latitude zones spanning from the Eurasian steppes to the North American prairies and the Argentine pampas, grasslands sit between forests and deserts in the amount of rain they get each year. You won’t find trees or towering plants here - instead, these flat, wide-open spaces can offer views that stretch on uninterrupted for miles upon miles.
Often found sandwiched between deserts and mountains in the middle of the continent, grasslands provide a unique habitat for grazing wildlife - from hyenas and prairie dogs to bison, badgers and antelopes.
Found from the central plains of the USA to the far reaches of Asia and central Australia, grasslands are a diverse habitat of plants and animals, living in harmony often hundreds or thousands of miles from the nearest coast. These habitats are characterised by expansive open horizons, sweeping vistas, and the numerous birds and animals that call them home.
- Very few trees
- Arid and dry
- Little vegetation
- Very limited rainfall
- Large variations in temperature between summer and winter
Because they experience very little rain and are prone to drought, grasslands are vulnerable to fire. This can cause loss of habitat for the animals that live there and disrupt the livelihoods of people who farm in these regions. Particularly in the USA, where a lot of grassland is used for food production, increased drought could present significant consequences for the wider population.
Conversely, wildfires in grassland habitats do have some positive consequences: retaining the low quality of the soil that prevents trees from growing and disrupting the dominance of the grass and flower species within the fragile ecosystem.
Other threats to grasslands include over urbanisation, the encroachment of invasive species of plant upon those that grow there naturally, and the impact of pesticides that come from increased agriculture.
Although often overlooked by the mountains that neighbour them, a trip to visit grasslands can be a thrilling experience - especially if it’s wildlife you want to see. Spotting hawks, deer, pronghorn antelope or a herd of bison might be on your itinerary, or you might simply find that a hike through the huge open space is an adventure enough in itself. Numerous endangered species can be spotted in the Grasslands National Park in Canada, and camping, horse riding and kayaking are all activities built to entertain families or solo explorers.
Across the world, grasslands can offer experiences that will stay with you. From cycling or taking in a scenic drive to camping under the stars for a dark sky experience, there are a wealth of unexpected adventures waiting in these quiet, often overlooked parts of the world.
Although grasslands across the world share certain characteristics, differences can be found across all of them. Grassland found in the mountainous Steppe regions of western Asia are strikingly different from the fertile lowlands of the South American pampas or the corn fields and prairies of the central USA. A trip to any of them will offer up a vastly different, always unforgettable, experience.
The numerous grasses found in the grassland biome mean plenty of animals have found that they can sustain living here. Wild horses, coyotes, deer, rabbits, wolves, prairie dogs, snakes, foxes, skunks and badgers can all be found in grasslands, whilst bird species might include owls, woodpeckers, sparrows, hawks and meadowlarks.
Although very few trees grow in the grassland biome, flowers and (of course) many different types of grass have learnt to thrive here. Sunflowers, clovers, blazing stars and wild indigos are just a few examples of grassland flowers, whilst grasses include buffalo and purple needlegrass.
Grasslands are found across the planet, from the North American prairies and the Eurasian Steppes, to the Uruguayan and Argentine pampas and velds of South Africa. In most cases, grasslands are found in the interiors of these countries, many miles from the fertile land near the coast.