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Biomes

Biomes

Author: Sophia Tutorial
Description:

Identify the key characteristics of each of the major biomes.

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Tutorial

what's covered
This tutorial will cover the topic of biomes. We will discuss the six major biome types, as well as aquatic biomes. We will define the three key terms — biome, biodiversity and biomass, which are all important concepts to know for this topic.

Our discussion breaks down as follows:

  1. Biomes: An Overview
  2. Six Main Types of Biomes
    1. Tropical Rainforest
    2. Temperate Forest
    3. Taiga
    4. Grasslands
    5. Tundra
    6. Desert
    7. Biome Comparison Chart
  3. Aquatic Biomes


1. Biomes: An Overview

Our first key term, biome, is a review. Biomes are areas of the earth with similar climatic conditions, plant life, and animal life. The primary characteristics of a biome are its level of precipitation and range of temperature.

The next key term is biodiversity, which is the number and relative abundance of species in a given area.

The last key term for this tutorial is biomass, which is the total weight of plants, animals, and other organisms in a given area.

All three are important concepts for today's topic. There are a wide variety of biome classifications, as you can see in the biome map below. This tutorial will cover six main categories.

did you know
The same biome type can exist at various locations on Earth, such as the arid desert that exists in both Mexico and North Africa (within red boxes).

World Map of Biomes World Map of Biomes Legend

terms to know

Biome
Areas of the earth with similar climatic conditions, plant life, and animal life.
Biodiversity
The number and relative abundance of species in a given area.
Biomass
The total weight of plants, animals, and other organisms in a given area.

2. Six Main Types of Biomes

As mentioned, we are going to discuss the six main types of biomes.

2a. Tropical Rainforest
The first biome type, shown in the map below, is tropical rainforest. Tropical rainforests are hot and humid and generally appear near the equator. They have high levels of both biodiversity and biomass. Vegetation grows in different layers going up, so various forms and groupings of life exist at each layer. Because rainforests tend to be so dense, the top canopy layers receive the most sunlight, while the forest floor receives very little.

Tropical Rainforest Biome

2b. Temperate Forest

Temperate forests receive less rainfall than tropical ones and are generally cooler. They are filled with deciduous trees that can lose their leaves in autumn and go dormant in the winter, though there are evergreens in the mix as well. They are found in temperate zones in both hemispheres and experience the four seasons.

did you know
Most of the human population lives in the temperate forest biome.

Temperate Forest Biome

2c. Taiga

The taiga biome is filled with cool conifer tree forests in both hemispheres. Many of the animals in this biome hibernate during the long, cold winters. The growing season tends to be short as well.

Taiga Biome

2d. Grasslands

Grasslands are primarily made up of grasses without many trees. This is largely the result of lower levels of precipitation.

Within this group are savannas, which are tropical grasslands near the equator and can support tall grasses, but still no trees. Savannas have a wet and dry season, and frequent natural fires play a large role in keeping a savanna healthy.

did you know
The majority of grazing animals on Earth live in savannas.

Steppes are another grassland group. They are the opposite of savannas, as they are cold grasslands with little precipitation.

The last subgroup within grasslands is the temperate grasslands, which occur in the dryer areas of the temperate biome latitude.

Grassland Biome

2e. Tundra

Tundra is the coldest biome category and receives very little rainfall. There is a layer of permafrost where the ground is actually frozen year-round which, when combined with a very short growing season of this biome, makes for low biodiversity. The sparse flora and fauna that do live here have adapted to the harsh conditions.

Tundra Biome

2f. Desert

The desert biome has very little precipitation, low biodiversity, and tends to be sandy and rocky. Deserts can be both cold and hot, but always have low levels of precipitation.

High winds leave deserts with little topsoil and nutrients to grow plant life. Those that can survive grow spines, shallow roots, and evolved waxy surfaces to retain and protect their water.

Desert animals tend to be small, nocturnal to avoid the heat of the day, and get most of their water from what they eat.

Desert Biome

2g. Biome Comparison Chart

This graph below can give you an idea of how each of the biomes are distributed in relation to temperature and precipitation. At the top of both heat and high precipitation sits the tropical rain forest biome, while at the bottom of both temperature and precipitation is the tundra biome.

Biome Comparison Graph


3. Aquatic Biomes

Aquatic biomes exist as well and fall into three main categories:

  • Freshwater, includes lakes, rivers, and streams.
  • Estuaries, known for their high levels of biodiversity, because they tend to be along shorelines where saltwater and freshwater sources meet.
  • Marine, includes all oceanic environments and tends to have lower levels of biodiversity; the colder the water, the larger the fish.


summary
Today we learned about the six main biome types: tropical rain forest, temperate forest, taiga, grasslands, tundra, and desert. We defined our three key terms, which are: biome, areas of the earth with similar climatic conditions, plant life, and animal life; biodiversity, the number and relative abundance of species in a given area; and biomass, the total weight of plants, animals, and other organisms in a given area. We also explored the three main categories of aquatic biomes: freshwater, estuary, and marine.

Source: Adapted from Sophia instructor Jensen Morgan, RAINFOREST PD HTTP://BIT.LY/1MG66EH TEMPERATE FOREST CC HTTP://BIT.LY/1GMGALH GRASSLANDS CC HTTP://BIT.LY/1X8QHVP TUNDRA CC HTTP://BIT.LY/1CMW1H3 DESERT CC HTTP://BIT.LY/1EKNWJD BIOME COMPARISON CC HTTP://BIT.LY/1MFPIKS

Terms to Know
Biodiversity

the number and relative abundance of species in a given area

Biomass

the total weight of plants, animals, and other organisms in a given area

Biome

areas of the earth with similar climatic conditions, plant life, and animal life