A Guide to Exploring the Terrestrial Biomes

APES Biome Book


The Locations of Tundras are the top of  the Northern Hemisphere as well as the bottom of the Southern Hemisphere.


Biotic Factors:

Dominant Animal Life: Despite a lack of biodiversity, there are animals present in Tundras. There are only 48 land mammal species, however there are numerous individuals per species. Some mammals include: shrews, hares, rodents, wolves, foxes, bears, and deer. Though minimal, there is a slight presence of insects in the Tundra such as mosquitoes.

Vegetation: There is not a lot of vegetation to be found within Tundras. There is only 1,700 species of vegetation within the Tundra. A majority of the vegetation present in Tundras is shrubs, sedges, mosses, lichens, and grasses.  

Abiotic Factors:

The average yearly precipitation is low: almost analogous to a dessert.  Tundra’s only get about 6-10 inches of precipitation a year. The yearly range of temperatures is -30℉- 54℉. The primary soil is permafrost which is a permanently frozen subsoil composed of gravel and finer materials.


Human Interactions:

More people are moving into the Tundra to work in mines and oil rigs. Humans are exploiting it by disrupting food patterns caused by creating towns, hampering passageways for animals through oil pipelines, and  the harm pesticides causes animals. There is a source of protection in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge that was instituted by President Eisenhower in 1960. However, there is still a significant amount of protection needed to help rehabilitate the tundras damaged by global warming.



Locations: It is found throughout Eurasia and North America. In addition, it is found in high, cool locations.


Biotic Factors:

Dominant Animals: Most animals within the Taia are predators; there are lynx and members of the weasel family that include: wolverines, minks, bobcats, and ermine. There is also a large population of insects and consequently a high presence of insect eating birds.

Plant Life: Not many plants can withstand the harsh conditions of the Taiga biome. The winters prove unfavorable for most plants. However, there is a presence of some lichens and mosses and a majority of coniferous trees such as, but not limited to pine and white spruce.


Abiotic Factors:

The average yearly precipitation for the Taiga is 12-33 inches. The average yearly range of temperatures is -65℉ - 30℉ for the winter and 20℉ - 70℉. The primary type of soil in the Taiga is soil that is thin, acidic, and deficient in nutrients. In addition, the soil is very rocky.


Human Interaction:

There are a few large cities in a part of the Taiga, however generally speaking the Taiga is unpopulated. The ways humans are exploiting this biome is through the practice of logging, mining, and hydroelectric development.  Means of remediating this biome, include the practice of conserving and recycling paper as this will decrease the need for logging and consequently the destruction of the Taiga.




Locations: Grasslands are found throughout the world including: North America, Eurasia, South America, and South Africa.


Biotic Factors:

Dominant Animals: The dominant animals in grasslands are plant-eating grazers called ungulates. Ungulates are animals with hoofs. Due to the variation of location, there is an array of animals that may reside within grasslands. For instance, you would not find  the same animals in South Africa as you would in North America.

Plant Life: Unsurprisingly, grass is the dominant plant of grasslands. In addition, wildflowers such as sunflowers and wild indigos tend to well here. Trees and shrubs tend not to survive well in the grasslands, however there is still a presence of them within grasslands.


Abiotic Factors:

The average yearly precipitation is 29-35 inches. The average yearly range of temperatures include the winter’s low being -40℉ and the summer’s high being 70℉. The primary soil type is a soil that is one of the darkest and richest in nutrients in the world.


Human Interactions:

People do live in grasslands and they often use it for farming. Regarding farming, humans exploit grasslands by doing this. The over use of grasslands for farming is depreciating the natural environment and thus harming it. A means of remediating this harm, is to conserve the land that farmers use of grassland. Despite the fact that farming is good, it is not good when it destroys the natural habitats of grasslands.

Deciduous Forest

Locations: Deciduous Forests can be found in Eastern North America, Europe, and parts of Asia.


Biotic Factors:

Dominant Animals: Animals in these forests must deal with the changing of seasons; they have hot summers and cold winters. Animals must be able to survive through the winter, hibernate, or migrate during it’s winter. An example of an animal that has the ability to adapt to such season changes is the black bear.

Plants: The main plant of the Deciduous Forest is the Deciduous tree. The Deciduous tree adapts to the changing seasons; it has leaves rather than pine needles that allow it to tailor its needs according to the changing weather consequent of season changes. There are also shrubs, herbs, and small trees.


Abiotic Factors:

The average yearly precipitation is 30-60 inches of rain a year. The average temperature is 50℉ while the average summer temperature is 70℉ and the average winter temperature is well below freezing. The soil has an accumulation of nutrients which serves as an adaptation in response to the changing seasons.


Human Interaction:

Humans do in fact reside within Deciduous forests. Humans are exploiting this biome by using the land for farming and housing; people are populating these areas and destroying the woods which animals inhabit. In addition, people hunt such animals and poach them. FSC International is making a stance in order to protect Deciduous forests everywhere; they guide businesses and individual consumers to make the healthier decision for the environment through approving paper products that are in the best interest of the forests.



Location:  The Chaparral is found within little areas within most of the continents of the world.


Biotic Factors:

Dominant Animals:  Most of the animals are grassland and desert animals. Due to the variation of location there is also a variation of animals within the Chaparral. For instance in California’s Chaparral, there are coyote, jack-rabbits, and lizards just to name a few animals. Whereas in Europe, there are wild goats, mouflon, and sheep to name just a few present animals.

Plants: Most plants found within the Chaparral have hard leaves that retain moisture. They are also adapted to fire exposure and a lack of water; they utilize whatever water they can obtain through their wide shallow root system. An example of such a plant are: poison oak, cacti, and scrub oak.


Abiotic Factors:

They average yearly precipitation is 10-20 inches. The average yearly temperature range is 30℉ - 100℉. The soil is hot, dry, and nutrient deficient. In addition, the soil is very susceptible to erosion.


Human Interactions:

People live in and around Chaparral Biomes. Humans are exploiting this land  through using it and then creating fires that can harm the animals and vegetation that reside in this biome. There is a protection set in place for some of the Chaparrals. For instance, the Chaparral in California is protected through two National parks that seek to protect the natural Chaparral.

Locations:  There are two kinds of deserts: hot/dry deserts and cold deserts. Both occur in different places. Hot and dry deserts are usually found near the Tropic of Cancer or the Tropic of Capricorn. Cold deserts are found near the Arctic.


Biotic Factors:

Dominant Animals: In hot deserts, there is an array of animals that call the desert home. Some include cold blooded animals such as snakes and lizards. Other animals found in the hot desert include small mammals like the kangaroo rat and kit fox. In cold deserts, most animals live along the shore and not too far inwards. Some examples of cold deserts animals include animals like seals and penguins.

Plants: In hot deserts, plants that are good at collecting and conserving water live here. Such a plant is a cacti which is very good at collecting and storing water as it may need to conserve it due to lack of rain. In cold deserts, virtually no plants grow with the exception of some (very few) grassses and mosses.


Abiotic Factors:

Hot and cold desserts vary drastically. Hot desserts get very little rain; on average they get 1 inch of rain a year. Whereas, cold deserts get up to 10 inches a year typically in the form of snow. Hot desserts temperature is 68℉ - 120.1℉. Hot deserts soil is dry and lacking in nutrients. Cold deserts soil is frozen and lacking in nutrients.


Human Interactions:

There is a very small percentage of those who reside in deserts. However, many people use the desert for recreational purposes. Humans are exploiting this biome by using it irresponsibly; for instance extracting too much oil and using vehicles that disturb and eventually harm the habitat. Many people protect the deserts because as stated before many people use it recreationally thus giving it a special attention.





Locations:  Savanna are located in Africa, Australia, South America, and India.


Biotic Factors:

Dominant Animals: There is a wide variety of animals that reside within Savannas. Due to the variation of location, the species vary savanna from savanna. Animals that reside in African Savannas include: African Elephants, Zebras, and giraffes. A large amount of animals within the savanna are herbivores.

Plants: Most of the plants are grasses due to lack of precipitation. Such grassses include:Rhodes grass, red oats grass, and star grass. There are however a presence of trees, but they are limited to water sources such as watering holes, streams, and ponds.


Abiotic Factors:

The average yearly precipitation is 10-30 inches. The average annual temperature range is 68℉ - 86℉. The primary soil is porous and can rapidly drain water. In addition, it has a thin layer of humus which is the organic portion of soil that is formed by decaying organisms. This organic portion provides plants with its nutrients.


Human Interactions:

People do live in savannas. Humans are exploiting this biome by farming and allowing their livestock to graze unregulated and thus too much on the biome. In addition, there is a massive problem of humans poaching animals that reside within the savanna. The practice of poaching is drastically diminishing the population of animals such as the rhinoceros. Legislation has sought to diminish the presence of poaching by outlawing the practice of it. In addition, savannas are now becoming parts of reserves in which humans are not permitted to interfere with.


Locations:  Temperate rainforests are found on: the Pacific Coast of North America, along the coast of Chile, the United Kingdom, Norway, Japan, New Zealand, and southern Australia. Tropical Rainforests are found in: Central and South America, Western Africa, eastern Madagascar, and Zaire Basin. In addition, they can be found in Indo-Malaysia.


Biotic Factors:

Dominant Animals: There is a wide variety of biodiversity to be found within the rainforests In fact tropical rainforests are home to half the world’s animals and plant species. These animals are tailored to live amongst and utilize trees. Some of these animals include monkeys and colorfully rich animals. Temperate rainforests include animals such as: birds and small mammals like chipmunks. Temperate rainforests also house animals like bobcats.

Plants: One of the most common of plants found within a rainforest are plants known as epiphytes. These are plants that utilize other plants to secure the sunlight they need to sustain themselves; they grow on top of other existing plants. Examples of such plants include orchids and bromeliads.


Abiotic Factors:

Rainforests do their name justice; they have the most rainfall of all the other biomes on average. It rains about 60-200 inches of rain each year in temperate rain forests! And it rains 80-400 inches of rain in tropical rainforests!!!The average temperature range is 70℉-85℉ in tropical rainforests. In temperate rainforests the average temperature range is 64.4℉-85℉. There is only a thin layer of organic soil that is left within the rainforest due to erosion; this makes the soil not very full of nutrient.


Human Interactions: People, although not with popularity, do reside within rainforests. Many people who used to live in cities are migrating into the rainforests for hopes of farming. Humans are exploiting this biome because they are extracting resources carelessly without much consideration of how long it will take the rainforest to replenish them. People are saving the rainforests by conserving how much they extract from it. In addition, people are practicing conservation at home which will lessen the demand of resources that are found within the rainforest.


Locations:  Alpines are found in mountain settings worldwide. These settings include:Andes, Alps, and Rocky Mountains.


Biotic Factors:

Dominant Animals: Animals that live in Alpine biomes need to be adapted to live in the cold weather. Most of the animals that live here are warm blooded; they are also accompanied by a small presence of insects. Some of these animals include: mountain goats, sheep, elk, beetles, and butterflies.

Plants: This biome is not particularly favorable towards plants; it’s intense wind, cold, and sunlight make it hard for plants to do well in this environment. Nevertheless, 200 plant species call the Alpine home. Some of these plants include: tussock grasses, small leafed shrubs, and dwarf trees.


Abiotic Factors:

The average yearly precipitation is about 12 inches a year. The average range of temperature is well below freezing for during the winter and up to 60℉ during its summer period. The soil goes through a freeze-thaw process and this consequently leads to poor soil because when organisms die it takes them a longer time to decompose and thus recycle nutrients back into the cycle.


Human Interactions:

People do infact live in the Alpine biomes. However, they are adapted to live here due to the lack of oxygen within the air; they have more hemoglobin within their blood in order to cope with the increased pressure and lack of oxygen. Humans exploit this biome by overusing it for recreation. With a mass surge of tourists and recreationalists, the biome is being overused and thus damaged. This biome may be remediated through what researchers are calling tourist activities that can help rebuild and rehabilitate the Alpine rather than destroy t.



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