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Structure and functions of Grassland Ecosystems

Structure and functions of Grassland Ecosystems
Grasslands (also called Greenswards) are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous (non-woody) plants.

GRASSLAND ECOSYSTEM (TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEM)

 

Introduction

 

v   Grasslands (also called Greenswards) are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous (non-woody) plants.

v   Grasslands occupy about 24% of the earth’s surface.

 

v   Grasslands occur in regions too dry for forests and too moist for deserts

 

v   The annual rainfall ranges between  25- 75 cm, Usually seasonal

 

v   The principal grasslands include:

 

Ø   Prairies (Canada, USA),Pampas (South America),Steppes (Europe & Asia) Veldts (Africa)

 

v   The highest abundance & greatest diversity of large mammals are found in these ecosystems.

 

v   The dominant animal species include

 

v   Wild horses, asses & antelope of Eurasia,

 

v   Herds of Bison of America; and

 

v   The antelope & other large herbivores of Africa.

 

Structure and functions of Grassland Ecosystems

 

I. Biotic components

 

1) Producer Organisms

 

v   In grassland, producers are mainly grasses; though, a few herbs & shrubs also contribute to primary production of biomass.

v   Some of the most common species of grasses are:

 

v    Brachiaria sp., Cynodon sp., Desmodium sp., Digitaria sp.

 

2) Consumers

v   In a grassland, consumers are of three main types;

 

a) Primary Consumers

 

v   The primary consumers are herbivores feeding directly on grasses. These are grazing animals such as

 

v    Cows, Buffaloes, Sheep, Goats, Deer, Rabbits etc.

 

v   Besides them, numerous species of insects, termites, etc are also present.

 

b) Secondary Consumers

v   These are carnivores that feed on primary consumers (Herbivores)

 

v   These include;-Frogs, Snakes, Lizards, Birds, Foxes, Jackals etc.

 

c) Tertiary Consumers

v   These include hawks etc. which feed on secondary consumers.

 

 

3) Decomposers

 

v   These include wide variety of saprotrophic micro- organism like: Bacteria; Fungi; Actinomycetes

v   They attract the dead or decayed bodies of organisms & thus decomposition takes place.

 

v   Therefore, nutrients are released for reuse by producers.

 

II. Abiotic components

v   These include basic inorganic & organic compounds present in the soil & aerial environment.

 

v   The essential elements like C, H, N, O, P, S etc. are supplied by water, nitrogen, nitrates, sulphates, phosphates present in soil & atmosphere.



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