Temperate Grasslands: Distribution, Climate, Vegetation and People

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Temperate grasslands of North America

The temperate grasslands of North America are known as the Prairies. It is a region of flat, sloping or hilly land. For the most part, prairies are treeless but, near the low lying plains, flanking river valleys, woodlands can be found. Tall grass, upto two metres high, dominates, the landscape. It is actually a sea of grass.

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Boundaries of Prairies

The prairies are bound by the Rocky Mountains in the West and the Great Lakes in the East. You can see that the prairies cover parts of United States of America and parts of Canada. In the USA, the area is drained by the tributaries of Mississippi and the Canadian prairies are drained by the tributaries of Saskatchewan Rivers.

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Climate in Temperate Grasslands of North America

Being located in the heart of a continent, the climate of temperate grasslands in North America is of continental type. The summers are warm with temperatures of around 20C, while in winter -20C has been recorded in Winnipeg, Canada. In winters a thick blanket of snow covers this region. The annual rainfall is moderate and is ideal for the growth of grass. Due to the absence of the north-south barrier, a local wind Chinook blows here.

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Flora and fauna of temperate grassland of North America

Prairies are practically treeless. Where water is available, trees such as willows, alders and poplars grow. Places that receive rainfall of over 50 cm, are suitable for farming as the soil is fertile. Though the major crop of this area is maize, other crops including potatoes, soybean, cotton and alfa-alfa is also grown. Areas where rainfall is very little or unreliable, grasses are short and sparse.

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These areas are suitable for cattle rearing. Large cattle farms called ranches are looked after by sturdy men called cowboys. Bison or the American buffalo is the most important animal of this region. It nearly got extinct due to its indiscriminate hunting and is now a protected species. The other animals found in this region are rabbits, coyotes, gophers and Prairie dog.

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Life of people in temperate grasslands of North America

The people of this region are very hardworking. They have successfully harnessed technology to utilise their rich natural resources. Two of the most developed countries in the world - the USA and Canada are located in this region.

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Prairies - Granaries of the world

Scientific methods of cultivation and use of tractors, harvesters and combines has made North America a surplus food producer. The Prairies are also known as the Granaries of the world, due to the huge surplus of wheat production.

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Dairy farming in North America

Dairy farming is another major industry. The dairy belt extends from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Coast in the east. Dairy farming and extensive agriculture both promote setting up of food processing industries.

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Minerals in temperate grasslands of North America

Large mineral deposits particularly coal and iron and a good network of roads, railways and canals in this region have made it the most industrialised region in the world.