APES Biome Book

Aydan Flowers



  • Latitudes 55° to 70° north
  • Covers 20% of the Earth's surface
  • Mainly found in the Northern Hemisphere (also found in Antartica)

Biotic Factors:

  • Plants living in Tundra regions are adapted to high winds, low tempertures, and rapid soil movement. They carry out photosynthesis at low tempertures and low light intensities (UCB 2004).
  • Trees cannot grow as a result of permafrost covering the ground; however small shrubs and mosses do survive. Reindeer moss, liverworts, and sedges are present.
  • Animals such as caribou, hares, wolves, foxes, and bears inhabit the tundra. Also, various bird and fish species live here.
  • Adaptations to survive in lengthy harsh winters and extreme cold are key for animals in tundra regions. Birds tend to migrate south for the winter, while other animals grow fat layers or dense fur and breed in the summer.

 Abiotic Factors:

  • Yearly precipitation int he tundra is very low. Only about 6 - 10 inches of precipitation (mostly snow) fall each year (Whitney S. 2002). Yearly temperatures range from -34°C average in the winter to 3-12°C average in the summer (usmp.berkeley.edu).
  • The soil in tundra regions is covered by permafrost, limiting the growth of large plants.


Tundra Cont.

Human Impacts:

  • Not many humans live in tundra regions, however they are still heavily impacted by human activities. 
  • Pesticide runoff can kill insects that birds rely on for food, and pollution from mining and drilling has harmed the air, lakes, and rivers.
  • There are projects in place to help clean up pollutants, particularly from mines. One such project is the Tundra gold mine in northwest Canada.



  • Eurasia and North America

Biotic Factors:

  • The taiga is mostly made up of coniferous trees, or evergreens. Douglas fir, white spruce, and pine trees are the most common.
  • In addition to coniferous trees, there are also lichens and mosses, much like in the tundra.
  • Also, Many vascular plants are also widespread across the circumpolar north. Some forest understory species dominate their habitats; they include twinflower (Linnaea borealis), lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), baneberry (Actaea rubra), and Swedish and Canadian dwarf cornel (Cornus suecica and C. canadensis) (Glenn 2016).

Abiotic Factors:

  • Precipitation in taiga regions comes in the form of snow, rain, and dew. The yearly average precipitation is 12-33 inches.
  • The temperture in winter can range from -54° C to -1° C, while the summer temperatures can be anywhere from -7° C to 21° C.
  • Soil tends to be of very pool quality in taiga environments. "They lack the essential nutrients to support large trees. The soil is also very thin here due to the cold weather" (BioExpedition 2012).

Taiga Cont.

Human Interaction:

  • Most taiga is unpopulated by humans, however there are some cities that can be characterized as being in taiga, such as Toronto, Canada or Moscow, Russia.
  • Taiga regions are impacted mostly by logging and deforestation as a result of growing demand across the world. This occurs particularly often in Canada and Russia



  • Grasslands are found in the American west (North American Prarie), steppes of Eurasia, and some parts of South America (The Pampas). Grasslands are only present inland, and in the middle latitudes.
  • Often located between forests and deserts.

Biotic Factors:

  • Grasslands are made up mainly of, well, grass. Grass types are seperated into tall grasses and short grasses. Plants like sunflowers, buffalo grass, clover and indigo are abundant is grasslands, particularly those in the American west.
  • "When rainy season arrives, many grasslands become coated with flowers, some of which can survive well into winter with the help of underground storage organs and thick stem bases" (National Geographic).
  • Animals in the grasslands are typically coyotes, wolves, bison, along with many birds and insects.
  • Animals in these areas have evolved to cope with dry and windy conditions. Grasslands are inhabitated by both grazing and burrowing animals.

Abiotic Factors:

  • In temperate grasslands, precipitation ranges from 10-30 inches. In tropical and sub-tropical grasslands precipitation ranges from 25-60 inches yearly.
  • Winter temperatures can be as low as 40° C while summer temperatures can be as high as 21° C (Sam 2000).
  • Soil in grassland biomes tend to be very fertile and deep, allowing for rich plant life to thrive.

Grassland Cont.

Human Interaction:

  • Humans negatively impact grassland environments by causing fires which can destroy large areas of land and disrupt natural ecosystems. Also overhunting can kill off many animals, an exhibit of which would be the hunting of buffalo in the American Great Plains, which almost led to their extinction.

Abiotic Factors:

  • The temperate deciduous forest biome is an area that is very cool and rainy most of the time. In the fall the leaves will fall off of the trees. The following spring they will emerge again. (BioExpedition 2012).
  • The average annual precipitation is around 30 to 60 inches per year.
  • The average annual temperature in deciduous forest areas is around 10° C.
  • The soil in deciduous forests is fertile as a result of the constant falling leaves that act as natural fertilizer.

Deciduous Forest


  • Eastern United States, central Europe, parts of Asia, South America, and Australia.



Biotic Factors:

  • Five layers (BioExpedition 2012):
  • Ground layer - moss and lichens, herb layer - short plants, shrub layer - huckleberries, etc., small tree layer - saplings, top layer - tree stratum, trees 60 to 100 ft. tall.
  • Plants in deciduous forests include lichens, maple, oak and walnut trees.
  • Common animals are "deer, gray squirrels, mice raccoons, salamanders, snakes, robins, frogs and many types of insects. Some animals migrate south when winter comes." (Connie 2000).


Deciduous Forest Cont.

Human Interactions:

  • Many humans live in deciduous forests, and as a result many forests are threatned by human actions.
  • A big problem for deciduous forests is the hunting of animal species to extinction. Also, the deforestation of forests continually decreases their size and biodiversity.
  • The human response is to set limitations on hunting and logging. These efforts have been succesful in some places, but unsuccesful in others. Forests are very important biomes to us because they serve to filter air for us.




  • United States west coast, west coast of South America, South Africa, western Australia and the Mediterranean.
  • Consists of a mixture of plains, rocky hills, and mountain slopes.

Biotic Factors:

  • Jackals, Mule Deer, and Coyotes are common in chaparral environments. Animals here usually are nocturnal, to avoid the heat. Reptiles are also present, and can cope with the heat well.
  • Plants in chaparral environments are well off. Cactus, eucalyptus, and schlerophyll species are widespread. (BioExpedition 2012)

Abiotic Factors:

  • Rainfall in chaparall environments has an average of 10 to 17 inches of rainfall per year.
  • Temperature is an average of 17° C yearly. Summer temperatures can reach 37° C, while winter temperatures can reach -1° C.
  • Soil in chaparral is not abundant with nutrients. As a result, it is very poor and succeptable to erosion. This means the chaparral is always changing, and the organisms living in it have to adapt to survive.

Chaparral Cont.

Human Interaction:

  • People can be drawn to chaparral areas and therefore people do live here.
  • Pollution is a huge threat to these environments, especially in places like California, where there is a large human population, complete with heavy industry. As with all environments, air, soil, and water pollution can disrupt and harm natural cycles, and chaparral is no different.
  • Restrictions set on pollution can slow the damage being done to biomes such as chaparall.



  • Hot deserts are usually near the Tropic of Capricorn or Tropic of Cancer. Cold deserts are located in arctic regions.
  • Hot deserts are characterised by high temeperatures that don't fluctuate much throughout the year. Not much plant life grows here, and most animals are forced to burrow underground. Cold deserts have snow during the winter, and much of the same types of plants and animals.

Biotic Factors:

  • Vegetation in both hot and dry deserts is pretty much restricted to low shrubs and plants. Cactus, Camel Thorn Trees, Prickly Pears, and Saguaro are common here.
  • Animals in deserts burrow underground to either keep cool or keep warm. These include snakes, tarantulas, porcupines and coyotes.

Abiotic Factors:

  • Precipitation in desert biomes varies between hot and cold deserts. Hot deserts have little precipitation, usually under 6 inches annualy. Cold deserts can have 6 to 10 inches yearly, in the form of snow.
  • "Hot and Dry Deserts temperature ranges from 20 to 25° C. The extreme maximum temperature for Hot Desert ranges from 43.5 to 49° C. Cold Deserts temperature in winter ranges from -2 to 4° C and in the summer 21 to 26° C a year." (BioExpedition 2012)
  • Soil in desert biomes tends to be hard and poorly developed. They cannot hold much watter as a result of the lack of organic matter growing on them. This is the same reason why landslides are common in areas that are not accustomed to heavy rains.

Desert Cont.

Human Interaction:

  • Humans do live in desert areas, particularly in places like Las Vegas or other cities. Humans exploit deserts by drilling for fossil fuels and disrupting natural habitats.
  • Global warming is a particularly large problem for deserts. "The desert is already extremely dry and hot. Should those temperatures continue to increase then there could be problems for the plants and animals that live there." (BioExpedition 2012)
  • Plants and animals that can barely survive now would have a huge problem adapting to even more severe temperatures and precipitation, and many would probably die off.
  • Humans can protect deserts by slowing the process of global warming, and setting protected areas where the natural desert cannot be disturbed



  • Found between tropical rainforests and deserts.
  • South America, Australia, India, and Africa are all home to savanna biomes.

Biotic Factors:

  • Wild grass is most prevelent in savannas. Plants here have adpated to withstand droughts. "They have long tap roots that can reach the deep water table, thick bark to resist annual fires, trunks that can store water, and leaves that drop of during the winter to conserve water." (BluePlanetBiomes). Palm trees, pine trees, and shrubs are the most common plants here.
  • Animals such as elephants, zebra, kangaroos, cheetahs, crocodiles and vultures live in savanna. "The meat eating animals depend on there being enough herds out there eating the grass and shrubs that they can all survive. There is a huge interdependence among animals and plants in the savanna biome." (BioExpedition 2012).

Abiotic Factors:

  • The average annual rainfall in savanna areas is 59 inches.
  • In the winter, the average temperature is between 20° C and 25° C. In the summer, the average temperature is between 25° C and 30° C.
  • Soil in savanna is diverse and varying. All types of different soils can be found in savanna. The climate, terrain, and precipitation all effect what type of soil is present.

Savanna Cont.

Human Interaction:

  • Humans live in savanna, but it is not a major biome that humans are present in. These people are mostly indigenous that have been on the land for long periods of time.
  • Humans directly impact savanna through the tourism industry. This is especially true in Africa. Guided hunts also harm the natural ecosystem. Some species being hunted are already endangered, and this only reduces their populations further.
  • Laws and regulations are in place to restrict and stop the hunting of endangered animals, but their success is limited. In some places, the ivory trade is still thriving, despite efforts against the killing of elephants.



  • Central and South America, Africa, India and Asia.

Biotic Factors:

  • The fertile and vibrant rainforest environment is home to millions of different plants and animals. Different organisms live on different layers of rainforest. Some live only in trees, while others may live on both trees and land.
  • Common animals in the rainforest are monkeys, hummungbirds, snakes, and frogs.
  • "Dominant species do not exist in tropical rainforests. Lowland dipterocarp forest can consist of many different species of Dipterocarpaceae, but not all of the same species. Trees of the same species are very seldom found growing close together." (Michael G 2001). However, trees are the most common plants in the rainforest, accompanied by thousands of different flowering plants.

Abiotic Factors:

  • Common yearly rainfall for a rainforest biome is around 100 inches, although some places can get up to 400 inches per year.
  • The average yearly temperature for a rainforest is steady around 25° C. The temperature never drops below 17° C.
  • Soil in rainforests is very nutrient poor and shallow. This is because of the very short nutrient cycle due to the constant death of plant and animal life that cannot be processed quick enough by detrivores.

Rainforest Cont.

Human Interaction:

  • Humans do not typically live in dense rainforest biomes, as a result of the thick jungle cover and harsh climate.
  • A massive issue for rainforests is deforestation by humans. Luxury wood products are sought after across the world, and the rainforest is often the victim of mass logging.
  • Governments and other groups attempt to pass laws and regulations to limit logging, and this approach can be succesful if it is enforced.



  • North, Central, and South America, Europe, and Asia.
  • Mountain regions

Biotic Factors:

  • Animals in alpine biomes have to adapt to the cold environment and strong UV wavelengths. Mountain goats, marmots, and jays are common here.
  • Plants in alpine regions tend to be coniferous trees, moss, and lichens. Many species of wildflowers are also present. Fir, pine, and snowflower are some common species.

Abiotic Factors:

  • Yearly precipitation in alpine regions is around 12 inches, mostly in the form of snow.
  • The average annual temperature is -4° C to 0° C. However, summer temperatures can be from 4° C to 15° C, while winter temperatures are often below freezing.
  • Alpine soil is poor as a result of a slow decomposition process. The soil is thin and drains well.


  • https://sites.google.com/a/woodscharter.org/o-gorman-site/home/biomes/alpine_klein

Alpine Cont.

Human Interaction:

  • Most alpine regions are not heavily populated by humans, although there are areas (particularly in Europe) that are inhabited by large amounts of people.
  • In areas that have a larger human population, air, water, and noise pollution all negatively impact the natural environment. This is a direct result of human development in alpine regions.
  • Efforts to mitigate human pollution will aid alpine environments, and can stop the degredatation of these places.


Michael G. [Internet]. 2001. Tropical Rainforest. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/rainforest.htm


Lucy M. [Internet]. 2000. Chaparral. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://blueplanetbiomes.org/chaparral.htm


Mary Elizabeth V. N. [Internet]. 2000. Steppe. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/steppe.htm


Stetson N. [Internet]. 2000. Desert. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/desert.htm


Whitney S. [Internet]. 2002. Tundra. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/tundra.htm

Connie T. [Internet]. 2001. Deciduous Forest. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://blueplanetbiomes.org/deciduous_forest.htm


[UCB] UC Berkeley. [Internet]. 2004. Berkeley (US): University California Berkeley. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/glossary/gloss5/biome/tundra.html


BluePlanetBiomes [Internet]. c2000. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/taiga.htm


BioExpedition [Internet]. c2012. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.bioexpedition.com/taiga-biome/


National Geographic [Internet]. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/grassland-profile/


BioExpedition [Internet]. c2012. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.bioexpedition.com/temperate-deciduous-forest-biome/

BioExpedition [Internet]. c2012. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.bioexpedition.com/chaparral-biome/


BioExpedition [Internet]. c2012. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.bioexpedition.com/desert-biome/





References Cont.

BluePlanetBiomes [Internet]. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/savanna.htm


BioExpedition [Internet]. c2012. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.bioexpedition.com/savanna-biome/


BioExpedition [Internet]. c2012. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.bioexpedition.com/tropical-rainforest-biome/


BluePlanetBiomes [Internet]. [cited 2016 Nov 21]. Available from: http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/alpine.htm





























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