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When It Comes to Conservation, Tropical Grasslands Have an Identity Problem [Slide Show]

Although they cover a fifth of Earth’s landmass, tropical grassy ecosystems are routinely misidentified and mismanaged

By Geoffrey Giller

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Tropical grassy ecosystems can vary enormously in tree cover.

This open grassland of the Serengeti National Park has very few trees. Credit: C. L. Parr....[ More ]

This eucalyptus savanna in Australia,

 however, is much more wooded but still has extensive grass coverage.  Credit: C. L. Parr / Trends in Ecology & Evolution....[ More ]

Fire is a frequent and widespread natural disturbance in tropical grassy biomes.

This Australian savanna burns yearly; the plants that thrive here are adapted to this regular fiery cycle.  Credit: C. L. Parr....[ More ]

This savanna, in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, is part of a long-term experiment in the effects of burning.

 Annual burns result in an open savanna… Credit: C. L. Parr....[ More ]

​…while fire suppression for over half a century has led to an increase in tree cover.

Credit: C. L. Parr....[ More ]

​Brazil’s Cerrado has a wide range of endemic flora but is now threatened by fire suppression and agriculture.

Credit: A. N. Andersen....[ More ]

​The diversity of forbs (nonherbaceous plants) in tropical grassy ecosystems is especially high.

These are from grasslands in South Africa. Credit: E. C. February and C. L. Parr / Trends in Ecology & Evolution....[ More ]

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