WHY ARE THERE NO TREES IN GRASSLANDS ?

The grasslands cover vast areas of land in almost all continents. The ones that we are most aware of , are the grasslands of Africa, the savanna in particular. This has been made more familiar because of the numerous programs in discovery and national geographic platforms. The documentaries on the great migration of wilder beasts and the big cats of Africa are mostly shot on these vast grasslands. One thing that is evident from these documentaries is the sheer lack of trees in the grasslands and the ones that are present do seem to have a flat top.

Now why can’t trees be seen in the savannah? The answer to this question is multifold. We can take this in 3 parts. 1) Soil and weather 2) Competition 3) Predators

1) Soil and weather:

The soil in the grasslands are not full of nutrients. Also, the soil is quite compact with less air limiting the root’s growth. Also, the grasslands are notorious for long spells without any rain and most of the saplings tend to die out during this phase as the under-water table is too deep for most trees’ roots to grow.

2) Competition:

Also, another key reason for failure in growth of trees is the fierce competition they face from grasslands. The grasslands have an intense spell of rain and this helps fast growth of grass in the region. Though the seeds of trees do grow during this phase, the grass eventually win the battle to water. The way grass absorb water is very different from that of a tree and the conditions in grasslands favor the grass.

3) Predators:

The animals that are present in the region too pose a threat for the growth of trees. Animals like elephants and giraffes can easily finish a plant off in one feeding and can reach out to tallest part of plants too. This doesn’t help most of the trees to develop. Only the ones with special adaptation can survive this onslaught. This can be seen in way of thorns (Acacia) and flat tops of the trees. While the thorns help survive smaller species, the flat top prevents animals like giraffe from reaching the center part of the plant.

Thus, the above mentioned points make life difficult for trees in the savanna and hence we could spot only few with large distance between them.

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