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A guide to exploring Earth's diverse ecological regions

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The Terrestrial Biomes 

By; Aaron Diaz 


     The Tundra is the world's youngest biome, for it was formed 10,000 years ago. It is located at lattitudes 55* to 70* in the Northern Hemisphere, an example of this region is Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska. 

     The Arctic Tundra is a windy place and winds can blow between 30 to 60 miles per hour. The Tundra is similar to a desert when it comes to precipitation, this biome only gets about 6- 10 inches of snowfall each year. A permanently frozen layer of Earth below the soil is the Tundra's permafrost. The summers in the biome are short and during these months the top layer of soil could thaw just enough to let plants growth and reproduce.

      There are barely any vegetation on this tundra, only 1,700 different species. You can find shrubs, mosses, lichens, grasses and sedges. There are not any trees being that they wont be able to withstand the cold temperatures. Surprisingly, there are animals living in the Tundra. Located on the tundra there 48 species of land mammals with many of each species. Some animals include hares, rodents, wolves, foxes, bears, and deer. 

      Pollution has affected this biome in a big way. Due to mining and drilling for oil, this has greatly influenced pollution in the air, lakes, and rivers. Plants around the surrounding area have died due to the area being so polluted. The Tundra is a very fragile environment and the plants and animals living in this biome have made some incredible adaptations to the long, cold winters and the short summers. These biotic factors live on a precarious edge and the smallest stresses can bring about their destruction. 



The Taiga biome is the home of many types of habitats such as, mountain tops, deserts, and tropical forest. This biome is cold and lonley, coldness and the food shortages become very difficult for animals to obtain especially in the winter, which is what cause the animals that live here to hibernate. Some migrate to the south others hibernate and some even cope with the environment which is hard to deal through. 

      Taiga is the largest biome in the world, it stretches over from Eurasia and North America. It is located near the top of the world, just below the tundra biome. The main seasons in Taiga include winter and summer. With only very cold snowfall in the winter and rainy, humid and warm in the summer. Temperatures in the summer range from from low as 20* F to as high as 70*F. 

       There are not as many plant species because of the harsh conditions. Not too many plants can survive the cold extremities during the winter, although there are mosses and lichens. Animals of the Taiga tend to be predators such as the link and wolverines, bobcats, minks, and ermine. They hunt herbivores like snowshoe rabbits, red squirrels and voles. 


             The Grassland biome is a large, rolling terrain filled with grasses, flowers and herbs. Grassland biomes can be found in the middle lattitudes, in the interiors of continents. There are two types of grasslands tall- grass, which are humid and very wet, and short- grass, which are dry.  

     In the winter, grassland temperatures can be as low as -40* F and as high as 70*F in the summer. There are only two seasons in the grassland biome, that is growing and dormant seasons. In the growing season, there is a lack of frost and plants are able to grow. In the dormant season, it is too cold that no plant species is able to withstand. 

        The grassland biome experiences about 10- 30 inches of rainfall per year. The amount of rainfall varies due to the specific area, the amount is very important in determining which areas are grasslands because its hard for trees to compete with grasses where the upper layers of soil are moist during part of the year but dryer in the deeper part of the year. 

        The common types of plant species available in the grasslands are buffalo grass, sunflower, crazy weed, asters, blazing stars, coneflowers, goldenrods, clover and wild indigos. Some common type of animals are coyotes, eagles, bobcats, gray wolf, wild turkey, fly catcher, canadian geese, cricket, dung beetle, bison, and prarie chicken. 


         Deciduous forest biomes can be found in the eastern half of North America and the middle of Europe. Some of the major areas include Russia, Japan, and China. 

The average annual temperature in this biome is 50 degrees F. The average rainfall is 30 to 60 inches a year. The Deciduous Forest contains five different zones, 1) The Tree Stratum Zone, 2)The small tree and sapling zone,  3) The shrub zone, 4) The Herb zone, 5) The Ground zone. 


       This biome has four seasons spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The animals here adapt to the climate by hibernating in the winter and living off the land in the other three seasons. They have adapted to the land as well by trying the plants given to them that is offered for them to see if they are good to eat and to keep as a good supply of food. The trees here provide shelter for these animals and these animals use these trees as source for their food and water. Not only have these animals learned to adapt to their environment, but plants as well. Plants living in this biome have learned to adapt by leaning towards the sun, as they soak up the nutrients for them to feed off of. 

     Because of humans, alot of deciduous forests biomes have lost land to farms and towns. Some of these people are willing to save these lands and creatures that live in these lands, but however there are still some poachers who want and are trying to kill the animals in the forests. These animals are losing their homes because of people wanting to build their homes. 

Deciduous Forest


       The chaparral biome can be found in parts of most of the continents like the west coast of the United States, South America, Cape town in South Africa, the western tip of Australia and the coastal areas of the Mediterranean. This biome has a lot and many types of terrain such as rocky hills and mountain slopes. It can be very hot and dry in the chaparral biome and as for the temperature here, it can be very mild in the winter and the temperature usually reaches about 10 degrees C. When in the summer the temperature reaches to 40 degrees C because it gets so hot and dry, fires and droughts become very common.

        The plants here have adapted to their environment's conditions. Most of these plants have small hard leaves which hold moisture. Some of the plants include poison oak, scrub oak, Yucca Wiple and other shrubs, trees and cacti.

The animals here are all mainly grassland and desert types adapted to hot, dry weather. Some animals here include coyotes, jack rabbits, mule deer, alligator lizards, horned toads, praying mantis, honey bees and ladybugs. 



     A desert is hot and dry. Deserts cover about one fifth of the Earth's land surface. Most of these hot and dry deserts are located near the Tropic of Cancer or the Tropic of Capricorn. Cold Deserts are located by the Arctic part of the world. 

Temperatures in the hot and dry deserts range from 20- 25 degrees C. The extreme maximum temperature for hot desert ranges from 43.5 to 49 degrees C. Cold Desert temperature ranges from -2 to 4 degrees C and in the summer 21 to 26 degrees a year.

      The precipitation in Hot and Dry Deserts differ from cold deserts. In a hot and dry desert there is usually very little rainfall, rainfall averages to under 15cm/ year. Cold deserts usually get a lot of snow and usually get rain in the spring time, averaging 15- 26cm a year.

    Vegetation in hot and dry deserts are very rare, plants are almost all ground- hugging shrubs and short woody trees, all the leaves are packed with nutrients. Some examples of plants include turpentine bush, prickly bears, and brittle bush. For all of these plants it is necessary for them to adapt in order to survive, they need to be able to store water for long periods of time and the ability to withstand the hot weather. Plants in the cold deserts are scattered, they can be found in areas with little shade. All of these plants are either deciduous and more or less contain spiny leaves. 

     Animals in the hot and dry deserts consist of small nocturnal carnivores and insects, arachnids, reptiles and birds. Cold deserts consist of animals such as antelope, ground squrrels, jack rabbits, and kangaroo rats.


     A savanna  is a rollling grassland scattered with shrubs and isolated trees, which can be found between a tropical rainforest and desert biome. Not enough rain falls on a savanna to support forests. Savannas are also known as grasslands, savannas can be found in a wide band on either side of the equator on the edges of tropical rainforests. 

   All year round, savannas have warm temperature. There are two different seasons in this biome, a winter and a summer. In the dry season which is the winter season, only an average of about 4 inches of rain falls. In the summer, there is lots of rain. Averaging of about 15 to 25 inches of rain falls during this time. It gets hot and very humid during the rainy season. 

    Plants of the savannas are highl specialized to grow in this environment of long periods of drought. These have a trait of having 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 during the winter to conserve water. 

   The savanna has a large range of highly specialized plants and animals, and they all count on each other to keep the environment balanced. In many parts of the savanna people have used the land to graze their cattle and goat. These animals eat the grass up until it is completely gone. With no vegetation the savanna turns into a desert, huge areas of the savanna biome are lost to the Sahara desert every year because of overgrazing and farming. 


     The tropical rainforest biome is a forest of tall trees in a region of year- round warmth. An average of 50 to 260 inches of rain falls yearly. Rainforest plants have made their adaptations to their environment. With over 80 inches of rain per year, plants have made their adaptations that helps them shed water off their leaves quickly so that the branches do not get weighed down and break. Dominant species do not exist in the tropical rainforest. 

    Many species of animal life can be found in the rain forest. Comman animals are mammals and birds. Insects make up the largest single group of animals that live in the tropical forests. they include brightly colored butterflies, mosquitoes, stick insects, and huge colonies of ants. 

    In today's world we know that the soil in the tropical rain forest are shallow, and very poor in nutrients and almost without soluble minerals. Thousands of years ago have heavy rain falls washed away the nutrients in the soil obtained from weathered rocks. This ecosystem has a very short nutrient cycle. Nutrients in this biome are mainly found in the living plants and the layers of decomposing leaf litter.

    The tropica rain forest biome can be found in three of the major geographical areas around the world:

  1) Central America in the Amazon River basin

  2) Africa

  3) Indo- Malaysia

Tropical Rainforest

       Alphine biomes are found in the mountain regions all around the world. The biome lies just below the snow line of a mountain. In the summer, the temperatures averages from 10 to 15 degrees C and in the winter the temperatures lie below freezing. The winter season lasts from October to May and the summer season lasts from June to September. The temperatures int the Alpine biome can also change from warm to freezing unexpectedly in one day. 

    Because of the severe climate in the Alpine biome, plants and animals have developed adaptations to those conditions There are only about 200 species of Alpine plants. At high altitudes there is less CO2, which plants need to carry on photosynthesis. Because of the cold and wind, most plants are small perrenial underground plants which grow and reproduce slowly. They protect themselves from the cold and wind by hugging the ground. When plants die they don't compose very quickly because of the cold which makes for poor soil condition. 

       The animals in this biome have to deal with the conditions in the region: the cold and too much high UV wavelengths. This because there is less atmosphere to filter UV rays from the sun, which means there are only warm blooded animals in the Alpine biome. Alpine animals adapt to the cold by hibernating, migrating to lower, warmer areas, or insulating their bodies with layers of fat. They tend to have larger lungs, more blood cells and hemoglobin because of the increase in pressure and lack of oxygen at higher altitudes.



       (Brynn Schaffner 2010)

(Biomes Group of the Fall 96 Bilogy 1B class) 

Works Cited