There are four biomes in the state of New Mexico: forest, grasslands, desert, and aquatic. Biomes are predicated on climate and geology. Climate is based on altitude, wind, rocks and soil, and annual rainfall. Biomes are classified based on the dominant plant species and the adaptations organisms have to survive in the environment or ecosystem.
The forest biome can be visited in the higher altitudes in New Mexico such as the northern New Mexico communities of Jemez Springs, Santa Fe, and Taos in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. These areas have warm summers and cold winters with snow. The community of Ruidoso in southern New Mexico is also located in a forest biome. Common flora include aspen trees, scrub oak, pine, pinon trees, mistle toe, grass, columbine and lupine flowers, and hemlock often mistaken for wild carrots. Common fauna include elk, deer, bob cats, bear, raccoons, owls, hawks, humming birds, grouse, wild turkey, and beetles.
Grasslands can be found in northern New Mexico on the Colorado border and along the Rio Grande River. The grasslands have low rainfall, warm summers and cold winters. Native grasses take up most of the landscape but some wildflowers such as Indian Paintbrush, daisies, and Chamisa grow in this biome. Grapes, apples, alfalfa, and chili have been successfully grown in some areas in New Mexico with river irrigation. Common fauna include antelope, coyotes, rabbits, skunk, prairie dogs, bees, insects, and migratory birds. Prairie dogs build underground towns that can be as large as a city block. Grazing prevents trees and scrubs from taking hold. Cattle are raised in the Chama area along the Brazos.
Desert landscapes are found in southern New Mexico. They are found in the lower altitudes from Carlsbad to Deming. Deserts see very little rain, hot summers, and cold winters. Common flora include cactus, prickly pear, mesquite, and yucca plants. Common fauna include bats, snakes, lizards, scorpions, tarantulas, ants, termites, insects, mice, raven, roadrunners, quail, and dove. Cacti bloom after the annual rains, usually in early spring. Plants have spiny leaves to conserve water. Many of the animal species are nocturnal to conserve water.
Freshwater biomes are found in mountain lakes and the Rio Grande, Chama, and Animas Rivers. Much of the river water comes from the snow melt in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Algae and cottonwood trees grow in and along the banks of these aquatic areas. Fauna include minnows, fish such as trout in rivers and streams and bass in lakes, salamander, porcupine, and dragonflies.