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Subclass Detail Report: S01
Tropical Grassland, Savanna & Shrubland Subclass

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Tropical Grassland, Savanna & Shrubland is dominated by mesomorphic grasses and shrubs, with or without scattered trees (but trees typically <40% cover), ranging from tropical coastal to inland lowland and montane grasslands and shrublands. Stands are found in warm tropical continental climates, typically from the equator to about 23°N and S latitude, with low or pronounced rainfall seasonality, with either one or two short dry seasons, or one long dry season, but frost virtually absent.
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Translated Name:Tropical Grassland, Savanna & Shrubland Subclass
Colloquial Name:Tropical Grassland, Savanna & Shrubland
Tropical Grassland, Savanna & Shrubland is dominated by grasses and shrubs, with or without scattered trees. Some occur in climates too dry for forest; others depend on soil conditions or fire, or both, rather than climate. The structure is a single, major grass or shrub stratum, or a mix of the two, with trees typically <10% cover, rarely with bare ground.
Tropical Grassland, Savanna & Shrubland is dominated by grasses and shrubs, with or without scattered trees (which may have up to 40% cover). Some occur in climates too dry for forest; others depend on soil conditions or fire, or both, rather than climate, but frost is typically absent throughout the growing season. The structure is a single, major grass or shrub stratum, or a mix of the two, exceeding 10% cover, rarely with bare ground (Whittaker 1975).
Vegetation Hierarchy
Name:Database Code:Classification Code:
Class 2 Shrub & Herb Vegetation C02 2
Subclass 2.A Tropical Grassland, Savanna & Shrubland S01 2.A
Formation 2.A.1 Tropical Lowland Grassland, Savanna & Shrubland F019 2.A.1
Formation 2.A.2 Tropical Montane Grassland & Shrubland F017 2.A.2
Formation 2.A.3 Tropical Scrub & Herb Coastal Vegetation F024 2.A.3
Dixon et al. (2014) and others suggest that there may be good ecological reasons to treat upland tropical tree savannas, with up to 40% tree cover, trees <8 m tall, and a substantial graminoid layer, as part of 2. Shrub & Herb Vegetation Class (C02), and we allow for that option here. By contrast, in non-tropical regions, we place tree savannas with woodland and forest.
Synonomy: > Tropical Savanna Biome (Woodward 2008) [Woodward includes upland lowland and montane grassland.]

Related Type Name:

Short Citation:
  • Faber-Langendoen et al. 2015c
  • Quinn 2008
  • Whittaker 1975
  • Woodward 2008
States/Provinces:
Nations:US
Range:This subclass is found widely throughout lowland and montane upland habitats of the tropical latitudes, from the equator to about 23°N and S.
US Forest Service Ecoregions
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Section Code:     Occurrence Status:
Tropical Grassland, Savanna & Shrubland is dominated by grasses and shrubs, with or without scattered trees (but tree cover <40%). Some occur in climates too dry for forest; others depend on soil conditions or fire, or both, rather than climate. The structure is a single, major grass or shrub stratum, or a mix of the two, exceeding 10% cover, rarely with bare ground (Whittaker 1975). The range of variation in upland formations corresponds to Lowland versus Montane versus Coastal patterns of variation.
Stands are found in warm tropical continental climates, with low or pronounced rainfall seasonality, with either one or two short dry seasons, or one long dry season, but in all cases frost virtually absent.
High
No Data Available
Authors:
D. Faber-Langendoen      Version Date: 17Oct2014


References:
  • Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, C. Josse, A. Weakley, D. Tart, G. Navarro, B. Hoagland, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, G. Fults, and E. Helmer. 2015c. Classification and description of world formation types. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-000. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO.
  • Quinn, J. A. 2008. Arctic and alpine biomes. Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.
  • Whittaker, R. H. 1975. Communities and ecosystems. Second edition. Macmillan Publishing Co., New York. 387 pp.
  • Woodward, S. 2008. Grassland biomes. Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.


USNVC Credits: Detailed Description of the National Vegetation Classification Types

Date Accessed:

To cite a description:
Author(s). publicationYear. Description Title [last revised revisionDate]. United States National Vegetation Classification. Federal Geographic Data Committee, Washington, D.C.

About spatial standards:
The United States Federal Geographic Data Committee (hereafter called the FGDC) is tasked to develop geospatial data standards that will enable sharing of spatial data among producers and users and support the growing National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), acting under the Office of Management Budget (OMB) Circular A-16 (OMB 1990, 2000) and Executive Order #12906 (Clinton 1994) as amended by Executive Order #13286 (Bush 2003). FGDC subcommittees and working groups, in consultation and cooperation with state, local, tribal, private, academic, and international communities, develop standards for the content, quality, and transferability of geospatial data. FGDC standards are developed through a structured process, integrated with one another to the extent possible, supportable by the current vendor community (but are independent of specific technologies), and publicly available.

About this document
This document contains type descriptions at the Subclass level of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. These descriptions were primarily written by NatureServe ecologists in collaboration with Federal Geographic Data Committee Vegetation Subcommittee and a wide variety of state, federal and private partners as a part of the implementation of the National Vegetation Classification. Formation descriptions were written by the Hierarchy Revisions Working Group. The descriptions are based on consultation with natural resource professionals, published literature, and other vegetation classification systems. The Ecological Society of America's Panel on Vegetation Classification is responsible for managing the review and formal adoption of these types into the National Vegetation Classification. Partners involved in the implementation of the USNVC include:

U.S. Government
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Commerce (DOC)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of the Interior (USDI)
  • Forest Service (FS) - Chair
  • National Agriculture Statistical Service (NASS)
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • U.S. Navy (NAVY)
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  • National Park Service (NPS)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Non U.S. Government
  • NatureServe (NS)
  • Ecological Society of America (ESA)

Disclaimer:
Given the dynamic nature of the standard, it is possible a type description is incomplete or in revision at the time of download; therefore, users of the data should track the date of access and read the revisions section of the USNVC.org website to understand the current status of the classification. While USNVC data have undergone substantial review prior to posting, it is possible that some errors or inaccuracies have remained undetected.

For information on the process used to develop these descriptions see:

Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, D. Tart, B. Hoagland, C. Josse, G. Navarro, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, A. Weakley, P. Comer. 2014. EcoVeg: A new approach to vegetation description and classification. Ecological Monographs 84:533-561 (erratum 85:473).

Franklin, S., D. Faber-Langendoen, M. Jennings, T. Keeler-Wolf, O. Loucks, A. McKerrow, R.K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2012. Building the United States National Vegetation Classification. Annali di Botanica 2: 1-9.

Jennings, M. D., D. Faber-Langendoen, O. L. Louckes, R. K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2009. Standards for associations and alliances of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. Ecological Monographs 79(2):173-199.

FGDC [Federal Geographic Data Committee]. 2008. Vegetation Classification Standard, FGDC-STD-005, Version 2. Washington, DC., USA. [http://www.fgdc.gov/standards/projects/FGDC-standards-projects/vegetation/NVCS_V2_FINAL_2008-02.pdf]

For additional information contact:

  • Implementation of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification Standard - Alexa McKerrow (amckerrow@usgs.gov)
  • NatureServe's Development of NVC Type Descriptions - Don Faber-Langendoen (don_faber- langendoen@natureserve.org)
  • Ecological Society of America's Review of the Type Descriptions Scott.Franklin@unco.edu
  • Federal Geographic Data Committee - Vegetation Subcommittee's Activities - Marianne Burke (mburke@fs.fed.us)