The bison helps create a habitat for other smaller species of animals and birds in its biome. But what biome do bison live in?
As keystone species, bison are critical to plant growth, the dispersion of seeds, and maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Considering their importance in the habitat they live in, it's difficult to think that bison were almost hunted to extinction for their hides and tongue.
The bison can be found in grasslands and savannas, where grazing is sustainable. However, the majority of bison live in the grasslands of North America. If you haven't figured it out by now, bison live in the grassland biome.
Since bison play an important role in their ecosystem, it pays to learn more about these animals. Keeping that in mind, here we will take a look at the bison, its habitat, and the features of the grassland biome in which it lives.
As people who have studied earth's various biomes for years, as well as their flora and fauna, we can provide you with all the information you need on the grassland biome and the plants and animals that call it home - including the bison.
The Grassland Biome
Grassland biomes are made up of broad open grassy landscapes. You do find the occasional tree in this biome; however, they are uncommon. Grassland animals include anything from African elephants to diverse prairie dog species. Animal grazing, wildfires, and little rain are three characteristics that keep grasslands alive.
Temperate grasslands and savannas are the two types of grasslands. Although these two types of grasslands appear to be similar, they differ significantly. Elephants, for example, can be found on African savannas but not in the United States' temperate grasslands. On the other hand, burrowing creatures such as prairie dogs are widespread in temperate grasslands. Savannas are known to have better soils than temperate grasslands.
The climate in grassland areas is optimal for the development of just grasses. Low precipitation rates are sufficient for grasses but insufficient for a forest of trees. Grassland ecosystems are also maintained by frequent fires. Grasses have evolved to recover quickly after a fire. Grassland animals are also fire-ready, retreating or digging underground to escape the flames. Trampling the earth by large animals also discourages plant development.
Africa is known for its savannas and plentiful animals, but savannas may also be found in Australia, South America, and Asia. Temperate grasslands are noted for their fertile soil, which encourages grass growth. Eastern Europe and North America are examples of temperate grasslands.
Grasslands are one of the most widely distributed plant forms on the planet. This is only because human manipulation of the land has dramatically altered natural vegetation, resulting in artificial grasslands of pastures, cereal crops, and others that require some type of unnatural disturbance such as cultivation, intensive grazing, burning, or mowing to survive.
Temperate grasslands are also known as steppes. With 10-20 inches of precipitation each year, they are drier than plains. Steppes are the most unusual variety of grassland, and they're sometimes lumped together as temperate grassland. The majority of steppe grasslands are found in Russia and sections of Eastern Europe, with a few tiny places in Sudan and Australia.
Many grasslands that were originally thought to be natural are now known to have been once-natural woods that flourished in a semi-arid environment. Their shift is due to early human disturbance. For example, forest burning by the Polynesians — the country's original colonists — during the eight centuries before European immigration in the 18th century is thought to have produced practically the whole large lowland grasslands of the eastern half of the South Island, New Zealand.
Grasslands are vital to almost every element of life, in addition to providing a bridge between desert and forest climates. The soil is deep and fertile since they are transitional land zones. This makes it perfect for growing crops and employing them as animal grazing grounds. The most well-known pastureland is the Americas' famed prairies. Unfortunately, just around 2% of the grassland biome area in North America remains.
Most grassland biomes have become endangered, if not extinct, as a result of human population increase. As previously stated, barely 2% of the grasslands that formerly existed in the United States remain. Cities, suburbs, agriculture, and industry have all staked claims to the land. We now understand that grassland biomes play a critical role in climatic and ecological stability.
Grassland Biome Climate
The quantity of rainfall received by grass is proportional to its height. Grasslands receive 500 to 950 millimeters of rain each year, compared to less than 300 millimeters in deserts and more than 2,000 millimeters in tropical forests.
While certain meadows experience high temperatures, the average temperature ranges from -4°F to 86°F. The dry and rainy seasons in tropical grasslands are both warm all year. Winters in temperate grasslands are chilly, and summers are hot and humid, with considerable rain. Annually, the grasses die back, with the soil and sod protecting the roots and young buds from winter.
Grassland Biome Animals
Grazing animals can be seen in significant numbers in grassland habitats. Many recognizable and intriguing animals that live in herds, such as zebras and antelopes, as well as predators that feed on them, such as lions and cheetahs, call them home.
A huge network of connections connects the plants and animals that live in a grassland. However, the extinction of essential species in the American West, such as buffalo and prairie dogs, and the introduction of invasive species, such as cane toads in northern Australia, have upset the ecosystem's balance and harmed a variety of other species.
Grassland Biome Plants
Grassland biome regions are continental areas that are dominated by the presence of diverse grasses, with shrubs and trees occurring occasionally. Because the circumstances for the survival of floral species are fairly good in these locations, they have a mind-boggling diversity of plant life. This post will provide you with a fascinating look into the world of grassland biome vegetation.
Grass species are the most common type of vegetation found in grasslands, and they range in appearance, size, color, family, and other characteristics. These untamed plains are home to a wide variety of weeds, grain grasses, reeds, and rushes.
Temperate grasslands receive 10 to 30 inches of rain each year and feature a dense population of wildflowers. On the other hand, tropical grasslands receive more precipitation on average, ranging from 20 to 50 inches per year. Tropical grasslands have more tree life than other grasslands since they do not have cold seasons like other locations. Instead, they have growth and dormant phases. These trees are nonetheless distinct from those found in boreal or rain forests.
Bison – The Giants of the Plains
The American bison is a large, ungulate animal with round black hooves. The hue of its fur is varying degrees of brown in the front and back of its body. A typical bison has a large beard on its chin and is hunchbacked. The brow is broad and narrow, and the neck is short. From the humpback to the tail, the hind legs are smaller than the front legs, forming a scarp. Hair length varies in the front and back, particularly in male bison: the front hair is much longer than the back hair. Bison horns are dark, sharp, and curved inward.
The proper name of this species is the American bison; however, most people refer to them as buffalo. The bison is North America's biggest terrestrial mammal. They may reach a height of six feet. A male may weigh up to 2000 pounds, whereas a female can weigh up to 1000 pounds. Bison have various distinguishing characteristics in addition to their imposing size. The hump on their shoulders is one of the most prominent features.
The bison and the buffalo are not the same animal. The enormous fluffy creatures commonly referred to as buffalo are really bison, but authentic buffalo resemble massive bulls. However, the two are linked. Bison and buffalo are both bovines; however, the bison belongs to a different genus than buffalo. Antelopes, cattle, goats, and sheep are among their cousins.
Around 30 million bison roamed the Great Plains around 150 years ago until a huge slaughter began in the early 1800s. By the late 1880s, there were just around 1,000 bison left. Bison, a keystone species, aid in creating habitat for a variety of species on the Great Plains, including grassland birds and even a variety of plant species. As bison browse, their hooves aerate the soil, aiding plant development, and disseminate native seeds, all of which contribute to a healthy and balanced ecology. The conservation community has made important contributions to bison conservation during the last decade.
About THE AUTHOR
James Parker has a Masters degree in Sustainability with a focus on land management, permaculture and regenerative agriculture. He also has experience managing sustainability projects, and is passionate about conservation and sustainability.Read More About James Parker