Abstract for F012


Temperate Grassland & Shrubland
Prairies et arbustaies de la zone tempérée


Temperate Grassland, Meadow & Shrubland is dominated by mesomorphic perennial grasses and forbs and is found in the mid-latitude regions across the globe. It is associated with a moist to semi-arid climate and geographically occurs between temperate forests and deserts. The present plant assemblages were strongly affected by Pleistocene glaciations, though regions close to the equator may have retained vegetation back to the Tertiary.

Grasslands are a predominant type in this formation and each continent has its own popular name for its part of this formation. In North America, it is the prairie; in Eurasia, the steppe. South Americans usually refer to pampas and South Africans to the veld. The plants (and animals) of the North American and Eurasian sections of the biome are closely related, but have been impacted differently by Pleistocene and post-Pleistocene climate changes, human occupation and use, wildfires, and grazing pressures from both wild and domesticated large mammals. The origins of South America's pampas and southern Africa's veld are still poorly understood. Fire may be implicated, as it is a necessary management tool today in preventing the encroachment of woody plants.

In addition to the larger geographic areas of grasslands and associated shrublands, scattered grassland, shrub and forb vegetation within temperate forest formations are included.

Although mesomorphic perennial grasses and shrubs are the most common growth forms in this formation, a large number of other herbaceous plants, primarily perennial forbs, are also found. Trees are not major components of the vegetation, except as a scattered layer (typically <10% cover).

Source: Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, C. Josse, A. Weakley, D. Tart, G. Navarro, B. Hoagland, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, G. Fults, E. Helmer. 2014. Classification and description of world formation types. Part I (Introduction) and Part II (Description of world formations). Hierarchy Revisions Working Group, Federal Geographic Data Committee, FGDC Secretariat, U.S. Geological Survey. Reston, VA, and NatureServe, Arlington, VA.

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