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Geography

Savannah grassland

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The savannah biome [biome: A large-scale ecosystem. ] is located further away from the equator than the tropical rainforest biome in the central part of Africa and in South America. It is dry, but not as dry as desert areas.

Characteristics

See where savannah grasslands are found on this biomes map.

Savannahs - also known as tropical grasslands - are found to the north and south of tropical rainforest biomes. The largest expanses of savannah are in Africa, where much of the central part of the continent, for example Kenya and Tanzania, consists of tropical grassland. Savannah grasslands can also be found in Brazil in South America.

Savannah regions have two distinct seasons - a wet season and a dry season. There is very little rain in the dry season. In the wet season vegetation grows, including lush green grasses and wooded areas. As you move further away from the equator and its heavy rainfall, the grassland becomes drier and drier - particularly in the dry season. Savannah vegetation includes scrub [scrub: Dense vegetation consisting mainly of small shrubs and bushes. ], grasses and occasional trees, which grow near water holes [water holes: Areas where the water table comes to the surface of the Earth, allowing water to be available for plants and animals to consume. ], seasonal rivers or aquifers [aquifer: Naturally occurring underground water stores. ].

Elephants at a water-hole in Namibia

Elephants at a water-hole in Namibia

Plants and animals have to adapt to the long dry periods. Many plants are xerophytic [Xerophytic: A type of plant that has adapted to living in a dry habitat such as a desert. ] - for example, the acacia tree with its small, waxy leaves and thorns. Plants may also store water, for example the baobab tree) or have long roots that reach down to the water table. Animals may migrate [migrate: To move from one area, country or region to another. ] great distances in search of food and water.

The graph below shows average monthly temperatures and rainfall levels in the savannah region of Mali. Notice how the temperature and rainfall patterns relate to each other - the hottest temperatures come just before heavy rainfall, and the coolest time of the year comes just after the rains. This pattern is typical of savannah climates.

Temperature and rainfall in Mali

Temperature and rainfall in Mali

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