Vegetation dominated by grasses, which is among the largest ecosystems in the world, has great environmental significance as well as providing feed for livestock and wildlife. Grassland types vary according to climatic zones as do their utilization and wildlife. Competition between species is affected by herbivory and disturbance. Grasslands often result from the arresting of plant succession due to fire, grazing and other anthropic intervention.

Keywords: savannah; steppe; grasses; herbivory; grazing; fire

Figure 1.

Extent of the world's grasslands. From Grasslands of the World by permission of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


Further Reading

FAO of the United Nations. Country Pasture Profiles. (Detailed descriptions of pasture and fodder resources by country for over 80 countries.) Online at

Hopkins A (ed.) (2000) Grass, Its Production & Utilisation. Oxford: Blackwell Science. ISBN 0‐632‐05017‐9.

Pratt DJ and Gwynne MD (1977) Rangeland Management and Ecology in East Africa. London, UK: Hodder and Stoughton.

Reynolds SG and Frame J (2005) Grasslands: Development Opportunities Perspectives. FAO and Science Publishers. ISBN 92‐5 10504‐2.

Suttie JM and Reynolds SG (2003) Transhumant grazing systems in Temperate Asia. Rome: FAO. Plant Production and Protection Series No. 31, 331p. ISBN 92‐5‐104977‐7.

Suttie JM, Reynolds SG and Batello C (eds) (2005) Grasslands of the World. Rome: FAO. Plant Production and Protection Series No. 34. ISBN 95‐5‐105337‐5

Tow PJ and Lazenby A (eds) (2001) Competition and Succession in Pastures, p. 322. Wallingford, UK: CABI International. ISBN 0 85199 441 5.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Suttie, James M(Sep 2007) Grasslands. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0003739]