Steppes – Concept, flora, fauna, climate and steppe of Mexico

We explain what the steppes are and what the fauna and flora of this biome consist of. Also, how is its climate and its relationship with the prairie.

The steppes are home to small and thick forms of plant life.

What are the steppes?

A terrestrial biome (ecological zone or biotic area) is known as steppe, far from the seas and flat, whose dry soils due to low rainfall are rich in minerals and poor in organic matter, being able to host very little plant life forms. size and thickness. Steppes are often considered cold deserts, contrary to the usual hot and sandy deserts.

Steppes are relatively abundant on our planet, in tropical, subtropical and temperate latitudes, and they are distributed in our geography as follows:

  • Eurasian steppe. Known as The Great Steppe, it is located between the continents of Europe and Asia, stretching from Moldova in Eastern Europe to Siberia, northern Russia, through Ukraine and Hungary.
  • North American steppe. Known as The Great Plains, they are located from the Canadian south to the north of Mexico, crossing the states of Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming in the United States .
  • Subtropical steppe. Located in some regions close to the European Mediterranean, such as Sicilia (Italy), Zaragoza or Almería (Spain).
  • Puno steppe. Also called the Andean Desert, it is located in the heart of South America, linking the north of Argentina and Chile with the Bolivian highlands. It is a high-altitude steppe, better considered as a highland plateau or high Andean tundra.
  • South African steppe. Known as the Veld, extended to the north and northeast of the country.
  • Patagonian steppe. Located in southern Argentina, in the region called Patagonia, which extends to the end of the southern cone of South America (Tierra del Fuego).

Steppe fauna

Steppe - fauna - horse
Herbivores tend to herd to resist hunting by predators.

The fauna of the steppes has adapted to the aridity of the region, as well as the vegetation on which it feeds. However, the biodiversity in these regions is rather low, with few herbivorous species and those capable of burying themselves or digging tunnels, to escape adverse climatic conditions. Many medium-sized predators feed on them, being able to dig them up, or hunt them in the open, like birds of prey. Herbivores tend to herd in large numbers to resist predator hunts, as there is no vegetation or mountains to hide.

Some common species in this biome are antelopes, eagles, wild horses, condors, rhea, wolves, buffalo, marmots, wild rats, cranes, moles, and certain types of tortoise. Also numerous species of insects and arachnids, such as scorpions, beetles and ants.

Steppe flora

Steppe - flora
The flora of the steppes is small, with little foliage and little greenery.

The steppe flora has adapted to the low humidity of the soil, tending to be of the grass type (herbs, shrubs at most) or scrub, that is, of little size, little foliage and little greenness. Their deep roots allow them to search for better layers of the soil, and it is common to find rhizomatic species capable of storing water in their tissues, just as in hot deserts.

Some common plant species in the steppe are cardón, rhubarb, poplars, cacti, cystus and various types of herbs, some capable of withstanding temperatures of -20 ° C.

Steppe climate

The remoteness of large bodies of water makes the steppes dry, temperate regions, sometimes with rainfall less than 250mm per year. Its climates are extreme and mid-latitude, characterized by a lot of thermal variation between day and night, and between summer and winter (very hot and very cold respectively).

Steppe and meadow

prairie - steppe
The name “prairie” is preferred in American terminology (prairie).

The terms steppe and prairie come to be more or less synonymous, since it is in both cases of grasslands and temperate shrubs, dry, that share climatic characteristics and fauna and vegetation. However, the name “prairie” is preferred in American terminology (prairie). In other regions the name of pampas, grasslands or savannas can also be used.

Steppe in Mexico

The Mexican grasslands, which is how the steppes are known locally, are part of the conglomerate of the North American Great Plains. They occupy 6.1% (118,320 km2) of the Mexican territory and extend over the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sonora, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí and Jalisco, covering a good part of their territories.

Although they can be found at low altitudes, most are between 1,100 and 2,000 meters high, and have annual temperatures between 12 and 20 degrees Celsius, with annual rainfall between 300 and 600 mm per year. In some cases they present soils with a high abundance of gypsum, and in others they present a higher organic content, especially when they are found at the bottom of valleys and on the slopes of hills.

Patagonian steppe

Argentine steppe
The Patagonian steppe covers almost the entirety of Santa Cruz, Chubut and Río Negro.

The steppes of Patagonia, also called semi-deserts, are huge flat expanses of southern Argentina, in an area close to 800 km2 that covers almost the entire territory of the provinces of Santa Cruz, Chubut and Río Negro.

Is about a region of many biological endemisms, especially among fish and amphibians, despite the fact that the region was colonized during the nineteenth century with sheep and cattle, which constitutes the main mode of exploitation of the region, which is very sparsely populated. The extensive plain suggests the possibility of wind power.