Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands

Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands is a terrestrial habitat type defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature.[1]. The biome is dominated by grass and/or shrubs located in semi-arid to semi-humid climate regions of subtropical and tropical latitudes.

Biome map 07
Extent of tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands


Grassland is dominated by grass and other herbaceous plants. Savanna is grassland with scattered trees. Shrubland is dominated by woody or herbaceous shrubs.

Large expanses of land in the tropics do not receive enough rainfall to support extensive tree cover. The tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands are characterized by rainfall levels between 90–150 centimetres (35–59 in) per year.[1] Rainfall can be highly seasonal, with the entire year's rainfall sometimes occurring within a couple of weeks.

African savannas occur between forest or woodland regions and grassland regions. Flora includes acacia and baobab trees, grass, and low shrubs. Acacia trees lose their leaves in the dry season to conserve moisture, while the baobab stores water in its trunk for the dry season. Many of these savannas are in Africa.

Large mammals that have evolved to take advantage of the ample forage typify the biodiversity associated with these habitats. These large mammal faunas are richest in African savannas and grasslands. The most intact assemblages currently occur in East African Acacia savannas and Zambezian savannas consisting of mosaics of miombo, mopane, and other habitats.[2] Large-scale migration of tropical savanna herbivores, such as wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) and zebra (Equus quagga), are continuing to decline through habitat alteration and hunting.[1] They now only occur to any significant degree in East Africa and the central Zambezian region. Much of the extraordinary abundance of Guinean and Sahelian savannas has been eliminated, although the large-scale migrations of Ugandan Kob still occur in the savannas in the Sudd region.[1]The Sudan type of climate is characterized by an alternating hot and rainy season, and a cool and dry season. In the Northern Hemisphere, the hot rainy season normally begins in May and lasts until September. Rainfall varies from 25 cm to 150 cm and is usually unreliable. The rest of the year is cool and dry. Rainfall decreases as one goes either towards North in Northern Hemisphere or South in the Southern Hemisphere. Drought is very common.


Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands occur on all continents but Antarctica. They are widespread in Africa, and are also found all throughout South Asia, the northern parts of South America and Australia, and the southern United States.


Afrotropic Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Angolan Miombo woodlands Angola
Angolan Mopane woodlands Angola, Namibia
Ascension scrub and grasslands Ascension Island
Central Zambezian Miombo woodlands Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia
East Sudanian savanna Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda
Eastern Miombo woodlands Mozambique, Tanzania
Guinean forest-savanna mosaic Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo
Itigi-Sumbu thicket Tanzania, Zambia
Kalahari Acacia-Baikiaea woodlands Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Mandara Plateau mosaic Cameroon, Nigeria
Northern Acacia-Commiphora bushlands and thickets Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda
Northern Congolian forest-savanna mosaic Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Uganda
Sahelian Acacia savanna Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan, Sudan
Serengeti Kenya, Tanzania
Somali Acacia-Commiphora bushlands and thickets Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia
Southern Acacia-Commiphora bushlands and thickets Kenya, Tanzania
Southern Africa bushveld Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Southern Congolian forest-savanna mosaic Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Southern Miombo woodlands Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Saint Helena scrub and woodlands Saint Helena
Victoria Basin forest-savanna mosaic Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda
West Sudanian savanna Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal
Western Congolian forest-savanna mosaic Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo
Western Zambezian grasslands Angola, Zambia
Zambezian and Mopane woodlands Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Zambezian Baikiaea woodlands Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Australasia Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Arnhem Land tropical savanna Australia
Brigalow tropical savanna Australia
Cape York tropical savanna Australia
Carpentaria tropical savanna Australia
Einasleigh upland savanna Australia
Kimberley tropical savanna Australia
Mitchell grass downs Australia
Trans Fly savanna and grasslands Indonesia, Papua New Guinea
Victoria Plains tropical savanna Australia
Indomalaya Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands Bhutan, India, Nepal
Nearctic Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Western Gulf coastal grasslands Mexico, United States
Neotropic Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Aripo Savannas Trinidad
Beni savanna Bolivia
Campos rupestres Brazil
Cerrado Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay
Clipperton Island shrub and grasslands Clipperton Island is an overseas territory of France
Córdoba montane savanna Argentina
Guianan savanna Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela
Gran Chaco Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay
Los Llanos Venezuela, Colombia
Uruguayan savanna Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay
Oceania Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Hawaiian tropical high shrublands Hawaiʻi
Hawaiian tropical low shrublands Hawaiʻi
Northwestern Hawaii scrub Hawaiʻi

See also


  1. ^ a b c d  This article incorporates text available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license. World Wide Fund for Nature. "Tropical and Subtropical Grasslands, Savannas and Shrubland Ecoregions". Archived from the original on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  2. ^ McClanahan, TR; Young, TP, eds. (1996). East African ecosystems and their conservation. New York: Oxford University Press.

The Bushveld is a sub-tropical woodland ecoregion of Southern Africa named after the term veld. It encompasses most of Limpopo Province and a small part of the North West Province of South Africa, the Central and North-East Districts of Botswana and the Matabeleland South and part of the Matabeleland North provinces of Zimbabwe. Kruger National Park in South Africa has a number of 'Bushveld' camps.

Einasleigh Uplands

The Einasleigh Uplands is an interim Australian bioregion, with vegetation consisting of savanna and woodland located on a large plateau in inland Queensland, Australia.

Hawaiian tropical high shrublands

The Hawaiian tropical high shrublands are a tropical savanna ecoregion in the Hawaiian Islands. They cover an area of 1,900 km2 (730 sq mi) on the upper slopes of the volcanoes Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Hualālai, and Haleakalā. They include open shrublands, grasslands, and deserts. Shrubland species include ʻāheahea (Chenopodium oahuense), ʻōhelo ʻai (Vaccinium reticulatum), naʻenaʻe (Dubautia menziesii), and ʻiliahi (Santalum haleakalae). Alpine grasslands are dominated by tussock grasses, such as Deschampsia nubigena, Eragrostis atropioides, Panicum tenuifolium, and pili uka (Trisetum glomeratum). Deserts occur on the coldest and driest peaks, where only extremely hardy plants such as ʻāhinahina (Argyroxiphium sandwicense) and Dubautia species are able to grow. The nēnē (Branta sandvicensis) is one of the few birds found in alpine shrublands, while ʻuaʻu (Pterodroma sandwichensis) nest in this ecoregion.

List of ecoregions in Gabon

The following is a list of ecoregions in the Gabon, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

List of ecoregions in Malawi

The following is a list of ecoregions in Malawi, as identified by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

List of ecoregions in Mauritania

The following is a list of ecoregions in Mauritania, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

List of ecoregions in Rwanda

The following is a list of ecoregions in Rwanda, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

List of terrestrial ecoregions (WWF)

This is a list of terrestrial ecoregions as compiled by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The WWF identifies terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecoregions.

The terrestrial scheme divides the Earth's land surface into 8 terrestrial ecozones, containing 867 smaller ecoregions. Each ecoregion is classified into one of 14 major habitat types, or biomes.

Additional ecoregions for Antarctic Realm are currently being incorporated (based on Terauds et al. 2012).

Antarctic Realm - Tundra Biome:

1 North-east Antarctic Peninsula;

2 South Orkney Islands;

3 North-west Antarctic Peninsula;

4 Central south Antarctic Peninsula;

5 Enderby Land;

6 Dronning Maud Land;

7 East Antarctica;

8 North Victoria Land;

9 South Victoria Land;

10 Transantarctic Mountains;

11 Ellsworth Mountains;

12 Marie Byrd Land;

13 Adelie Land;

14 Ellsworth Land;

15 South Antarctic Peninsula.

Terauds, A, SL Chown, F Morgan, HJ Peat, DJ Watts, H Keys, P Convey, DM Bergstrom. 2012. Conservation biogeography of the Antarctic. Diversity and Distributions 1–16. DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2012.00925.x

Mandara Plateau mosaic

Mandara Plateau Mosaic is a ecoregion located in northern Nigeria and southern Cameroon.


Miombo is the vernacular word for Brachystegia, a genus of tree comprising a large number of tree species together with Julbernadia species in woodlands. Miombo woodland is classified in the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome (in the World Wide Fund for Nature scheme). The biome includes four woodland savanna ecoregions (listed below) characterized by the predominant presence of miombo species, with a range of climates from humid to semi-arid, and tropical to subtropical or even temperate.

Characteristically the trees shed their leaves for a short period in the dry season to reduce water loss, and produce a flush of new leaves just before the onset of the rainy season with rich gold and red colours masking the underlying chlorophyll, reminiscent of temperate autumn colours.

The name miombo is used in a number of Bantu languages in the region such as Swahili, Shona and Bemba. In Bemba, the word "miombo" is the plural of the word "muombo", which is the specific name for the species Brachystegia longifolia.

Ord Victoria Plain

The Ord Victoria Plain, an interim Australian bioregion, is located in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, comprising 12,540,703 hectares (30,988,750 acres).The bioregion draws its name from the Ord River and the Victoria River.

Sudan (region)

The Sudan is the geographic region to the south of the Sahara, stretching from Western to eastern Central Africa. The name derives from the Arabic bilād as-sūdān (بلاد السودان), or "the lands of the blacks", referring to West Africa and northern Central Africa. The Arabic name was translated as Negroland on older English maps.

Historically, the name was understood to denote the western part of the Sahel region. It thus roughly encompassed the geographical belt between the Sahara and the coastal West Africa. In modern usage, the phrase "The Sudan" is also used in a separate context to refer specifically to the present-day country of Sudan, the western part of which forms part of the larger region, and from which South Sudan gained its independence in 2011.

Sudanian Savanna

The Sudanian Savanna is a broad belt of tropical savanna that runs east and west across the African continent, from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the western lowlands in the east. The Sahel, a belt of drier grasslands and acacia savannas, lies to the north, between the Sudanian Savanna and the Sahara Desert. To the south the forest-savanna mosaic is a transition zone between the Sudanian Savanna and the Guinean moist forests and Congolian forests that lie nearer the equator.

Tropical forest

Tropical forests are forested landscapes in tropical regions: i.e. land areas approximately bounded by the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn, but possibly affected by other factors such as prevailing winds.

Some categories of tropical forest types are difficult. While forests in temperate areas are readily categorised on the basis of tree canopy density, such schemes do not work well in tropical forests. There is no single scheme that defines what a forest is, in tropical regions or elsewhere. Because of these difficulties, information on the extent of tropical forests varies between sources. However, Tropical Forests are extensive, making up just under half the world’s forests.More than 3.6m hectares of virgin tropical forest was lost in 2018.

Western Gulf coastal grasslands

The Western Gulf coastal grasslands are a subtropical grassland ecoregion of the southern United States and northeastern Mexico. It is known in Louisiana as the "Cajun Prairie", Texas as "Coastal Prairie," and as the Tamaulipan pastizal in Mexico.

Western Zambezian grasslands

The Western Zambezian grasslands is a tropical grassland ecoregion of eastern Zambia and adjacent parts of Angola.


The Yaéré, from Fula yaayre, is the name of a vast annually flooded flat savanna grassland plain, part of the extensive floodplains around the shallow and variable Lake Chad in Central Africa.When not inundated by floods the Yaéré is an ecoregion of the Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome, and when flooded it is an African freshwater ecoregion in the Flooded grasslands and savannas Biome.

Zambezian and mopane woodlands

The Zambezian and mopane woodlands is a tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands ecoregion of southeastern Africa.

The ecoregion is characterized by the mopane tree (Colophospermum mopane), and extends across portions of Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, including the lower basins of the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers.

The more humid Southern Zanzibar-Inhambane coastal forest mosaic and Maputaland coastal forest mosaic ecoregions lie between the Zambezian and mopane woodlands and the Indian Ocean. The Zambezian and mopane woodlands lie generally at a lower elevation, and has lower rainfall, than the neighboring miombo woodlands ecoregions, which occupy the plateaus and escarpments above the river lowlands. It is bounded to the southwest by the Drakensberg Range and Southern African Bushveld and Drakensberg montane grassland, woodland, and forest ecoregions. To the west, it transitions to the drier Zambezian baikiaea woodlands and Kalahari Acacia-Baikiaea woodlands on the Kalahari sands of the Southern African Plateau.

See also

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