Grasslands go by many names. In the U.S. Midwest, they're often called prairies. In South America, they're known as pampas. Central Eurasian grasslands are referred to as steppes, while African grasslands are savannas.
There are two main kinds of grasslands: tropical and temperate.Tropical grasslands include the hot savannas of sub-Saharan Africa and northern Australia. Rainfall can vary across grasslands from season to season and year to year, ranging from 10 to 40 inches annually. Temperatures can go below freezing in temperate grasslands to above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Depending on how they’re defined, grasslands account for between 20 and 40 percent of the world's land area. They are generally open and fairly flat, and they exist on every continent except Antarctica
Grasslands support a variety of species. Vegetation on the African savannas, for example, feeds animals including zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, and giraffes. There can be up to 25 species of large plant-eaters in a given grassland habitat, comprising a sort of buffet where different grasses appeal to different species.
Some grass species in these habitats include red oat grass and Rhodes grass in tropical savannas, and purple needlegrass and galleta in temperate areas. When rainy season arrives, many grasslands become coated with wildflowers such as yarrow, hyssop, and milkweed. The plants on grasslands have adapted to the drought, fires, and grazing common to that habitat.
grasslands could help mitigate climate change: One study found California's grasslands and rangelands could because they are less susceptible to wildfires and drought.