Ecology And Environment

Five Major Biomes of the World



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Biomes are large areas of the world where similar kinds of plants, animals and other living creatures adapt to their environment and climatic conditions. A biome is made of ecosystems. An ecosystem consists of biotic population interacting with their abiotic milieu, to form a system. In an ecosystem, plants, animals and other organisms rely on each other while also networking with non-living parts of the ecosystem such as the soil, water and nutrients. In an ecosystem, each type of plant and animal has its own role to play which contributes directly and indirectly to the growth and sustenance of the biome. Biomes are essentially classified into terrestrial and aquatic biomes. Individual biomes are usually targeted for conservation of biodiversity of the region. There are five major biomes in the world, namely, aquatic, desert, forest, grassland and tundra. The following paragraphs aim at providing a comprehensive understanding of the all five most important biomes.

Water covers 75% of the earth’s surface and hence aquatic biomes acquire a dominant importance among the other biomes and include the fresh water bodies and the marine regions. Oceans signify the largest and most assorted of the ecosystems wherein, salt water evaporates and condenses into rain, which falls on the land areas, while most of the oxygen in our atmosphere is produced by algae which are also responsible for absorption of large amounts of carbon dioxide from our environment. The inter-tidal zone, coral reefs, pelagic zone, benthic zone, estuaries and abyssal plain play host to diverse varieties of marine flora, fauna and microbial organisms which interact with their non-living environment to complete the cycle of life, forming varied ecosystems. The littoral and limnetic zones in the inland water bodies house millions of phytoplankton and zooplankton that participate extensively in the food chain.

The forest biome consists of the tropical forest, temperate forest and boreal forest which cover almost one third of the earth’s land surface. Tropical forests are exemplified by the maximum diversity of species. These forests extend from 23.5 degrees in the North (latitude) to 23.5 degrees in the South (latitude). Absence of winter season combined with dry summer and heavy rainy season sets up a favorable situation for the growth and development of different species of plants and animals. Temperate forest occupies eastern North America, northeastern Asia, and western and central Europe with distinct seasons which provide comfortable bedrock for augmentation of large variety of broad leaved trees. Boreal forests or taiga occurs between 50 degree and 60 degrees in north latitude. Short, moist, and moderately warm summers and long, cold and dry winters are responsible for cold tolerant flora and faunas.

Grassland biomes are large terrains of grasses, flowers and herbs of moderate height. The soil type, climate and altitude determine the type of plants and animals that survive and thrive on these grasslands. Due to the low amount of rainfall received by these regions, the size of the grasses is stunned. Erratic droughts and regular forest fires prevent large forest growth.

The hot desert biome does not have a large variety of plant and animal life due to the hot and dry weather. The animals with the ability to burrow under ground survive the low precipitation and hot climate. In the cold desert, snow covers the ground during winter, which is an impossible condition for the growth of plants. These regions are characterized by ground hugging shrubs, short woody trees, small nocturnal animals, insects, arachnids, reptiles, and birds.

The Arctic Tundra is the youngest biome with a fragile environment, extending between 55 degree to 70 degree north, with vast tree less areas. The soil can support the growth of low plants like mosses, heaths, and lichen. The permafrost formed in winter, melts during summer, forming soggy marshes, lakes and bogs that breed thousands of insects which attracts many migratory birds. Even though, there is a lack of biodiversity in the variety of animals found in tundra, the regions houses a surprisingly large range of animals like shrews, hares, rodents, wolves, foxes, bears and deer.

Over the past few years, the increasing human activity has lead to the irreversible and incurable destruction of the ecological habitats of the world. The conservation of the biomes has become very important to preserve the different species of floras and faunas. The world today is facing the implications of rash and un-checked development activities which are destroying the biodiversity in different ecosystems. It has become imperative that people are educated about the value of these biomes and how they play a crucial role in the ultimate survival of human beings in the world. The area which has already been destroyed cannot be restored back to its previous glory, but efforts can be made to ensure that conservation activities will prevent further deterioration of these biomes.

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