Patrick Keyser, University of Tennessee, Center for Native Grasslands Management
Savannahs are typically thought of as transitional landscapes between forest and prairie, containing a sparse overstory and well-developed herbaceous understory, including grasses, wildflowers, and occasional understory shrubs. A similar concept is a woodland, which is a transitional landscape between savannahs and forests. In woodlands, overstory density is typically greater and understories are not as well-developed and may contain more woody plants than what is typical of savannahs. The open-forest canopy and rich understory vegetation of both communities were historically maintained by frequent, low-intensity fires. Although savannahs and woodlands were once widely distributed across much of the Eastern U.S., they are now rare due to fire exclusion, land clearing, and natural succession. Many plant and animal species associated with forests, forest edges, and open prairies thrive in these communities making savannahs and woodlands some of the richest and most diverse natural communities in the region. They provide excellent habitat for northern bobwhite quail, eastern wild turkeys, and in many cases, white-tailed deer.
Status and Revision History
Published with Full Review on Apr 30, 2018