From the Pond to the Desert: Your Guide to the Biomes of the World
Author: Terry Newhaven
Biomes are defined as geographic areas characterized by certain conditions on the earth with communities of plants, animals and soil organisms. Sometimes, they are referred to as an “ecosystem”. Areas with various climatic conditions, rock formation, water resources, soil types and complex interactions are also classified in different biomes. Some parts of the earth have more or less, the same kind of abiotic and biotic factors spread over a large geographical area creating an ecosystem over that area. Such an ecosystem is also called a biome. Examples of biomes include tundra, grassland, coniferous forests, deciduous forests marine, fresh water and deserts.
This is a large flat area of land, where it is very cold and there are no trees around. Animals and plants of various kinds find it difficult to survive in these places because of the very low temperatures. The land is often covered with snow most of the year, causing many animals to hibernate for survival. The summer season in these areas are very short. Animals that can be found in the Tundra are bears, moose, reindeer and some birds.
Deserts are the driest regions on the earth’s crust. Deserts are known to be hot, dry biomes, but there are also cold deserts that have cold nights especially in the winter. Few plants and vegetation exist because of the low water supply. Plants that survive there include the cactus and the Joshua tree while animals that are found in this biome include marmots, prairie dogs, and several varieties of snakes and lizards that live underground. Rainfall in the desert is about 10mm in the west and 70 to 80mm on the inner parts of the desert. Desert is characterized by dominance of annual grasses (plants), which means that after a season with rarely abundant rains, the desert plains can be covered with a sea of short annual grass. Desert biomes include insects such as beetles and others that can use fog water.
Grassland biomes are areas of land in which grasses are the dominant plant life. This is different from other terrestrial biomes which allow most of its ground surface to be occupied by trees. Grasslands serve the purpose of grazing areas for animals and have also been exploited as plantations or farming grounds for mankind. They are also semi-arid regions with few or no trees on it and are most inhabited by grazing animals and a few species of reptiles.
Tropical rainforests are situated along the equator and are mostly occupied with millions of plants and animals. Estimates show that rainforests maintain more types of animals and plants than all the other biomes combined. Because of its location near the equator, the average temperature is about 70-90 degrees and there is a lot of rainfall throughout the year. The rain forest is made up of three layers: the ground story, the canopy and the under story.
A coniferous forest contains trees that reproduce by dropping cones. Coniferous also means cone bearing. Cone bearing trees adapt easily to cold weather since they have pine needles instead of leaves. Birds and animals, such as bears and deer, find it easier to live among the coniferous trees because many of them migrate or hibernate to escape the long, cold winter months.
Deciduous forests consist of trees that do not bear cones. They have seeds that fall to the nearby forest floor. These trees tend to lose their leaves each year when the weather turns cold. Since they lose their leaves, sunlight can reach the ground and plants can grow underneath those trees. Hence, flowering plants and grasses grow in this forest. They are home to many animals because the weather seems to be friendly to them. They can be found in some parts of China, Japan and the eastern parts of the US.
Lakes, ponds and rivers contain the fresh water of the earth. Plants and animals in the fresh water regions adjust to the low salt concentration, which is usually less than 1%. Many animals need the fresh water for survival and existence. The place where fresh water and salt water meet is called the estuary. The different types of fresh water regions include ponds and lakes, streams and rivers and wetlands.
The Marine regions have estuaries, coral reefs and oceans. The largest place where ecosystem exists in this biome is the ocean. The inter-tidal zone connects the ocean to the land. The rise and fall in tides cause the plants and animals to live at the bottom and on the sea shore. Corals produce their own food through the process of photosynthesis and the animals use their tentacles to catch microorganisms.
To get more information about the biomes of the world, the following links should be followed:
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- The marine biomes- The marine biomes contain the greatest number of animals that live in water.
- Fresh water biomes- Fresh water biomes have little salt in their water. Fresh water can be found in ponds, lakes and wetlands.
- Temperate deciduous forest biome- Examples of places with this biome are the US and Canada. There are four different seasons in this region namely: spring, summer, winter and fall.
- Coniferous biomes- The climatic condition in this biome favors the growth of both grass and trees.
- Tropical rainforest biome- This biome boasts of wonderful vegetation for man. Man has been exploiting this area for timber and other natural resources.
- Biomes of the world- the site contains links to the different kinds of biomes including pictures for clear explanation
- Grassland biome- The grassland biome consists of grasses and flowers. This vegetation contributes to the richness of the soil for farming.
- Desert biomes- The desert biomes are very dry. They have very little rainfall throughout the year. An example is the Desert Biomes in Koichab Basin in the South of Namibia.
- Map of biomes - The site describes the areas in the world where one can find certain kinds of biomes.
- The tundra- The tundra lacks the presence of trees. Vegetations in the biome include lichens, mosses and sedges.