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Encyclopedia of environmental biology
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The definition of grassland covers an extremely diverse range of ecosystems with vegetation dominated by grasses (Gramineae) or grasslike species, such as the sedges and rushes (Cyperaceae and Juncaceae). Although grasslands are found in the temperate, tropical, arctic, and montane regions of the world, they are almost all characterized by experiencing a seasonal period of low rainfall. Most grasslands cover terrain of relatively uniform releif and display little of the diversification in vegetation strata that can be found in woodlands or forests, however, they do maintain a remarkably diverse flora that can only coexist owing to the interacting environmental factors of climate, soils, grazing, and fire. At the small scale, below 10m2, grasslands are probably the most species-rich plant communities in the world. Knowledge of the structure and functioning of the aboveground and belowground floral and faunal communities is essential for the correct management for maintenance and preservation of the globally important ecosystems
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