Tropical and Subtropical Grasslands, Savannas and Shrub Lands

Tropical and Subtropical Grasslands, Savannas and Shrub Lands

Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas and shrub lands usually thrive in regions close to the equator like Africa, Australia, India and South America. These tropical and subtropical ecosystems support the lives of a wide range of plant and animals species. However, the grasslands experience prolonged dry seasons, which only makes them ideal only for drought-resistant species. Grass, shrubs and herbs dominate the category of species found in these regions. Besides, the tropical grasslands also host a variety of animal species including both herbivores and carnivores, which thrive mutually with plants.

Tropical and subtropical savannas, and shrub lands are scattered across all continents apart from only the Antarctica. Large grasslands are mainly found in parts of the African continent, Australia, South America and India.

Characteristics of Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas and Shrub Lands

The characteristics of tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas and shrub lands may vary slightly depending on the region. However, there are key conditions that are experienced across many tropical and subtropical grasslands across the world. The following are some of them;


These tropical grasslands are found in regions with semi-arid to semi-humid climatic regions. As the name suggests, they occupy tropical and subtropical altitudes that experience wet and dry climate.

These ecosystems receive an average annual rainfall of between 300 to 500 millimeters, equivalent to 20 to 60 inches. The rainfall is usually seasonal and can sometimes even occur for only a few weeks in the entire year. The regions experience at least five months of dry spell annually, when less than 4 inches of rainfall is recorded. This season is linked to the period of low sun.

Plant life

A variety of the plant species that survive in the savanna are adapted to the prolonged dry seasons experienced. One of the common species is herbaceous plants, which usually dry out and die during the dry seasons and re-grow at the start of rainfall. Another is the perennial annuals that have long tap roots for siphoning water from beneath the ground. These plants also have bulbs for water storage. Some of these plants include shrubs, peas, red Valerians, shallot bulbs, acacia, and baobab among others.

However, many plant species continue to disappear mainly as a result of various factors including climatic changes and human activity.


There is also a wide range of animal species that live in these ecosystems. The biodiversity patterns in the tropical and subtropical grasslands sustain grazers, which in turn provide food to their respective predators. The animals have adapted to the seasons experienced in the savannas and usually migrate according to the abundance of food.

Savannas are expansive in areas where they thrive and this gives plenty of space for herds of grazers. Besides, the ecosystems also host a variety of bird species. In areas where they are water spots, some reptiles can also be found.


Considering the longer dry seasons experienced in the savannas, the soil is not fertile enough. The changing wet and dry seasons, combined with the baking sun create a hard layer of soil that is not easily permeable to water. As a result of this, waterlogging is a common occurrence whenever there is rainfall. This makes it hectic for some trees to flourish in these grasslands. The soils have a laterite top layer and volcanic sands in some areas, which also inhibit the growth of certain plants.

Current Condition of Tropical and subtropical grasslands, Savannas and shrub lands

Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas and shrub lands continue to thrive in several parts of the world today. However, this does not mean that they are in a good state. In fact, they face a greater threat from the uncertain climatic conditions and activities by human. Many plant and animal species thriving in the savannas have been wiped out or are on the way to a similar fate due to clearance of land by man for purposes of settlement and other developments. Besides, man is also involved in various environmentally unfriendly practices, which have led to global warming. This not only threatens the survival of grasslands across the globe but the entire ecosystem.

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