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Word Count: 597
Grasslands are characterized as lands dominated by grasses rather than large shrubs or trees In the Miocene and Pliocene Epochs which spanned a period of about 25 million years mountains rose in western North America and created a continental climate favorable to grasslands Ancient forests declined and grasslands became widespread Following the Ice Ages grasslands expanded in range as hotter and drier climates prevailed worldwide There are two main divisions of grasslands 1 tropical grasslands called savannas and 2 temperate grasslands Savanna is grassland with scattered individual trees Savannas of one species or another cover almost half the surface of Africa about five million square miles generally central Africa and large areas of Australia South America and India Climate is the most important factor in creating a savanna Savannas are always found in warm or hot climates where the annual rainfall is from about 508 to 127 cm 20-50 inches per year It is crucial that the rainfall is concentrated in six or eight months of the year followed by a long period of drought when fires can occur If the rain were well distributed throughout the year many such areas would become tropical forest Animals include giraffes zebras buffaloes kangaroos mice moles gophers ground squirrels snakes worms termites beetles lions leopards hyenas and elephants but they all do not stay in the same Savanna There are also some environmental concerns regarding savannas such as poaching overgrazing and clearing of the land for crops Temperate grasslands are characterized as having grasses as the dominant vegetation Trees and large shrubs are absent Temperatures vary more from summer to winter and the amount of rainfall is less in temperate grasslands than in savannas The major manifestations are the veldts of South Africa the pampas of Argentina and Uruguay the steppes of the former Soviet Union and the plains and prairies of central North America Temperate grasslands have hot summers and cold winters Rainfall is moderate The amount
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