Biomes are a way to divide the Earth‘s surface. These divisions are based on climate patterns, soil types, and the animals and plants that inhabit an area. There are biome on dry land and in water. Every inch of the Earth’s surface is a part of one or more biomes.
There are a couple of different ways to look at the number of biomes. Some like to divide biomes into five basic types: aquatic, forest, desert, tundra, and grassland. These five types of biome can be further divided by the differences in seasons or animal and plant species.
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The aquatic biome consists of any part of Earth that is covered with water. This includes freshwater and salt water. The aquatic biome can be further divided into freshwater biomes, marine biomes, wetland biomes, coral reef biomes, and estuaries. These subdivisions are based on the salt content of the water, the aquatic plants that live there, and the aquatic animals that thrive there.
The forest biome is the largest and has a wide variety of plants, trees, animals, insects, and microscopic organisms. The major characteristic of the forest biome is its trees. About 30% of the Earth is considered a part of the forest biome. The forest biome is subdivided by its climate and types of trees present. These subdivisions are the rainforest biome, temperate biome, chaparral biome, alpine biome, and taiga biome.
The desert biome has one major, distinguishing characteristic, the fact that it has very little vegetation. The climate is rather extreme depending on its location. The deserts of Africa are extremely hot during the winters and warm throughout the rest of the year. There are also cold deserts such as those in Antarctica. These deserts are extremely cold during the winter and cold during the other seasons.
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Tundra biomes are the coldest places on Earth. They are similar to a cold desert except they receive less rainfall and contain different animals and plants. Even though the conditions are harsh, the tundra biome does have plant and animal habitats.
The grassland biome is made of rolling hills of various grasses. They receive just enough rain to sustain grass but not enough to grow many trees. There are a few trees that will grow in grasslands but sporadic wildfires keep them under control. There are two types of grassland, the savannas, and temperate grasslands.
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Types of Biomes
There are many different types of biomes on the Earth’s surface. Each biome is unique in that it has its own weather and temperature patterns, plant species, and animal species. It is important to understand the uniqueness of each biome in order to understand why certain animals and plants thrive in one area yet would not be able to survive in another. Biomes are also very sensitive and each has special needs in order to maintain itself. Although there are many types of biome, they each fit into two categories: aquatic biomes and terrestrial biomes.
Aquatic biomes are those that occur under water. This can be saltwater or freshwater. There is saltwater in the ocean and this is where one would find the ocean biome and the coral reef biome. The shallow part of the ocean that contains coral is a part of the coral reef biome.
The freshwater biome includes areas of land covered in water that contains less than 1% of salt water. This includes rivers, lakes, ponds, and wetlands such as swamps and marshes.
Terrestrial biomes are those that occur on dry land. These biome differ in their climate, vegetation, and animal life. There are many types of terrestrial biome but the main biomes include tundra biome, desert biome, forest biome, and grassland biome.
- The tundra biome is one of extreme weather conditions. Temperatures often remain very cold and harsh. Only a few plants and animals can survive there.
- The desert biome also has extreme weather conditions. There are two types of deserts, hot deserts, and cold deserts. Both desert types are very dry and receive very little rainfall.
- The forest biome is characterized by its humidity and ample rainfall. The rain allows very tall trees to grow there. There are two types of forest, tropical rainforest, and temperate deciduous forest. These forests are distinguishable by the types of plants and trees that grow there.
- Grasslands have a lot of variety among its plants and animals. The plants that grow there include many types of flowers. The soil in the grassland is very rich in nutrients so it is easy for many plants to survive there. Even though the temperatures in the grassland biome remain pleasant for most of the year, it does experience a dry season. This dry season sometimes results in a drought which makes water scarce for the plants and animals there.