What is Savanna Biomes? | Types, Definition, Structure, Function & Facts

What is Savanna Biomes?

Savannah is a type of grassland biome. The steppe is sometimes called the tropical grassland. To learn more about the other major grassland biomes, visit our temperate grasslands page.

Characteristics of the Savanna

Grasses and trees – Savannah is a sprawling grassland dotted with trees and shrubs.

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Rainy and dry seasons – Savannah has two distinct seasons when it comes to rainfall. There is a rainy season in summer with about 15 to 25 inches of rainfall and a dry season in winter with only a few inches of rain.

Large herds of animals – There are often large herds of grazing animals on the savanna that thrive on the abundance of grass and trees.

Warm – The savanna stays pretty warm all year. It cools a bit during the dry season, but remains hot and humid during the rainy season.

Where are the Major Savanna Biomes?

Savannah is commonly found between desert biomes and rainforest biomes. They are mainly located near the equator.

The largest steppe is located in Africa. Almost half of the African continent is covered with savanna grassland. Other large savannas are located in South America, India and northern Australia.

Animals in the Savanna

One of nature’s most spectacular sights is the animals of the African savanna. Since the savanna is rich in grass and trees, many large herbivores (herbivores) live here and congregate in large herds. These include zebras, wildebeest, elephants, giraffes, ostriches, antelopes, and buffaloes. Of course, where there are many herbivores, there must be carnivores. Many powerful predators roam the savanna including lions, hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, black mambas and wild dogs.

Herbivores have evolved to avoid predators. Some animals like antelope and ostriches use speed to try to outrun predators. Giraffes use their height to detect predators from a distance, and elephants use their size and shearing force to scare away predators.

At the same time, the steppe predators have adapted their own special skills. Cheetahs are the fastest land animals and can run at 70 miles per hour to catch their prey. Other animals, such as lions and hyenas, hunt in groups and trap the weaker ones from the protection of the herd.

One of the reasons why so many different species of herbivores can live in savannas is that different species have adapted to eat different types of plants. It can be a different tree or even a tree of different heights. Some animals are designed to eat low grass while others, like giraffes, are designed to eat leaves on tall trees.

Plants in the Savanna

Much of the savanna is covered with various grasses, including lemongrass, Rhodes grass, star grass and Bermuda grass. There are also many trees scattered throughout the savanna. Some of these trees include acacia, baobab and jackfruit trees.

Plants must be able to survive the dry season and drought in the savanna. Some store water and energy in their roots, tubers, or stems. Others have roots that go deep into the ground to reach the low water table.

Fires in the Savanna

Fire is an important part of the savanna. During the dry season, fires remove dead old grass and make way for new growth. Most plants will survive because they have extensive root systems that allow them to regrow quickly after a fire. Trees have thick bark that helps them survive. Animals can often run to escape a fire. Some animals dig deep into the ground to survive. Insects often die in the millions in a fire, but it is a feast for many birds and animals.

Is the Savanna in Danger?

Overgrazing and agriculture have destroyed much of the savanna. If overgrazed, the grass will not grow back and the savanna can turn into a desert. In Africa, the Sahara is expanding into the savanna at a rate of 30 miles per year.

Facts About the Savanna

The grasslands in Australia are called Bush.

Many animals migrate out of the savanna during the dry season. Some savanna animals, such as vultures and hyenas, are scavengers that feed on the prey of other animals.

The African savanna is home to the tallest land animal, elephants and tallest land animal, the giraffe.

Baobab trees can live for thousands of years.

The savanna has the highest herbivore biodiversity of any biome.

Many steppe animals have long legs, which enable them to migrate long distances.