Ecology And Environment

A Guide to the different Types of Biomes

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"A Guide to the different Types of Biomes"
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Biomes are places in the world that share similar characteristics of weather, geology, temperature, and other factors, and that sustain various types of life.  There are two major biomes on Earth: terrestrial and aquatic.

The aquatic biomes are divided into freshwater and marine, or saltwater. Brackish biomes are a mix of salt and fresh water.


The most basic list of terrestrial biomes includes: Tundra, forest, desert and grassland.

A more extensive list of forests will include: Deciduous and rainforests. Of rainforests, there are tropical, deciduous, tiaga, and temperate rainforests. Jungles are incorporated into rainforests, but may include any area that is densely overgrown. Because tropical rainforests have such dense canopies, jungles only can form when they are on the edges of rainforests or when some problem is compromising the high canopy, which cuts off sunlight and prevents growth in the lower plant life.

Tiaga is a term which confuses many, as it is included in some lists of biomes and excluded from others. This is the Russian word for the forest that has needle leaf trees and which is the largest terrestrial biome. Tiagas cover Eurasia and North America.

Chaparral can be called Mediterranean forest, woodlands, shrublands, mattoral, fynbos, maccia, or kwongan, depending on the country. These are combinations of tough, sturdy woody plants and scrub, oak forests, grassland, pine woods, walnut woods. The Mediterranean type of climate that sustains this particular 5% of the earths biomes exists in California, the Mediterranean Basin, South Africa, Austrailia, Chile, and part of Vancouver Island in Canada.

Deserts can be either dry, hot, cold, coastal or temperate. Deserts are overwhelmingly dry, the plant life has spines, thorns and thick skins, or is in the form of tough, low, scrub. Deserts can have extremes of heat and cold between day and night. Deserts that have more moisture will develop more scrub, sage, sagebrush and other plant life and can be called scrub deserts.

Grasslands can be called  pampas, steppe, puszta, savannah, the Austrailian Outback, plains and praries. The predominant feature is of course, grasses, but some have more or fewer trees, are more or less temperate, rather than tropical, and can vary widely in rainfall and temperature ranges throughout the day and through the seasons.


The ocean, or marine biome includes the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Arctic, Southern, and a myriad of bays and gulfs. The ocean biome is very salty, containing about a cup of salt per gallon of water. The marine biomes include the oceans, coral reefs and estuaries, with the ocean biomes taking the overwhelming place of distinction.  The oceans dominate the Earth's surface, producing the water that converts into rain. The marine and oceanic algae take in much of the atmospheric gases of carbon dioxide and  produce much of the atmospheric oxygen that we need in order to survive.

There are the zones of the ocean biome: The Intertidal Zone, where land and ocean meet.  After the Intertidal is the Pelagic Zone, which is referred to as the Open Ocean, or water that is farther away from land.

Below the Pelagic Zone is the Benthic Zone, which is the bottom of the ocean, or the ocean floor. Some classifications of the Benthic Zone do not include the deepest parts of the ocean, having it ending at the next zone, the abyssal zone. Other classifications have the Benthic zone described as any ocean  or marine bottom, no matter how deep. In general, this zone supports life that lives on or slightly under the bottom, in coral and aquatic plants, and in rock outcrops. Now, this zone is found to include the volcanic vents where new life forms have been discovered.

The Hadal zone, in some classifications, is considered to be the trenches of the ocean, which can go far deeper than the abyssal zone. With new submarine technology, where machines are engineered to withstand greater pressures, the exploration of the deeps are revealing whole new environments and life forms. The deepest of the Hadal zone is the Mariana Trench, which is, at its lowest point, 36,200 feet deep

The freshwater biomes account for about 20% of the Earth's biomes and provide the low salt water needed to sustain land bound life. Freshwater biomes include streams and rivers, estuaries, brackish or intertidal zones, lakes, ponds and wetlands. Also included may be swamps, bogs, fens, and marshes.   Rivers and streams generally originate at headwaters, either at lakes and ponds or from areas where snowmelt originates, causing all of the water to flow in one direction.


Finally, two biomes that are rarely considered are caves, which present a completely unique and sub terrenian biome and cities, which offer so much modification to the surface that they can even create their own miniature weather systems.

Tiaga biome


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