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A biome is a naturally-occurring community of plants and wildlife that occupy a major habitat. In this lesson, we will examine the temperate grassland biomes found around the world to gain a better understanding of them.

What Are Temperate Grasslands?

If you have ever watched an old Western movie and can picture in your mind a vast herd of buffalo roaming across the plains, then you are picturing a temperate grassland biome. These biomes are characterized by their vast expanses of open land that receive relatively little rainfall and are home to large herbivores.

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Climate of the Temperate Grassland Biome

Temperate grassland biomes have a semiarid climate and normally receive between 15 and 30 inches of precipitation per year. Much of the precipitation they receive falls in the form of snow during the winter months. Depending on the latitude of the temperate grassland, they often experience long, hot summers.

The temperatures in the grasslands vary according to the season. In the winter, it is possible for the temperatures to dip well below freezing, and in the summer, it is not uncommon for temperatures to stay above 90 degrees Fahrenheit for a long period of time.

Plants of the Temperate Grasslands

Due to the relatively low amount of precipitation received in these grasslands, it is difficult for trees and large shrubs to survive. For this reason, the majority of plants found in the biome consist of different types of grasses. These grasses have adapted to survive long periods of drought, as well as the cold temperatures and occasional fires that spread throughout the area.

They have also evolved to have large deep root systems to take hold in the soil and help prevent erosion.

This picture depicts the vast open spaces found in temperate grasslands.
Image of a grassland.</p>
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<p>The grasses found here can either be tall or short depending on the location of the grassland and the amount of rain they receive. In areas that receive less rain, the grasses consist of shorter species. Warmer areas that receive more rain are home to taller species of grasses, including sagebrush, cacti, sunflowers, and clovers.</p>
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Short grasses cover the landscape of this temperate grassland.
Image of a grassland.

Animals of the Temperate Grasslands

Due to the vegetative makeup of the grasslands, they are home to large varieties of herbivores, which are animals that have adapted to eat plant material.

In the Americas, the animals include bison and wild horses. In Africa, the animals include gazelles, zebra, and rhinoceros. The presence of these large herbivores also brings in predators, such as wolves in the Americas and lions in Africa. Some of the smaller animals that inhabit the temperate grasslands include prairie dogs, grasshoppers, snakes, coyotes, sparrows, quail, and hawks.

Wild horses are typical animals found in the temperate grasslands.
This map shows the areas that were once temperate grassland in dark yellow.
A map of the biomes of the United States.

Learning Outcomes

When you’ve completed this video lesson, take the opportunity to:

  • Provide details about the climate of the temperate grassland biome
  • Name some of the plants and animals found in the temperate grassland biome
  • Point out the different names for temperate grassland biomes around the world

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