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Determinants of Tropical Savannas
Tropical savannas, defined as ecosystems formed by a continuous layer of graminoids (grasses and sedges) with a discontinuous layer of trees and/or shrubs, are the most common vegetation type (physiognomy) in the tropics. Tropical savannas are found over a wide range of conditions: rainfall from approximately 200 mm to 1500 mm a year, temperature from subtropical regimes such as the South American Chaco and the South-African savannas with temperature seasonality and cold-month average temperatures below 10 °C, to low-latitude savannas with no temperature seasonality, and soils from volcanic soils such as in parts of the Serengueti plains in Tanzania to dystrophic soils such as in the Brazilian cerrados. The one constant climatic characteristic of tropical savannas is rainfall seasonality. Yet the duration of the dry season can vary from 3 to 9 months, with a mode of 5 to 7 months.