The world’s biomes are communities of plants and animals characteristic of a climate. The key ingredient in recognizing a particular biome is vegetation.
The biome is an extended expression of ecosystems, that is, a biome can cover several ecosystems.
The 8 main terrestrial biomes of the world are: tundra, taiga, temperate forest, Mediterranean scrub, grasslands, savanna, jungle and desert. Here are its characteristics.
It is the terrestrial biome with the simplest vegetation and the least animal diversity. It is found only in the northern hemisphere, in the Arctic polar region.
The tundra is treeless and the ground is covered with mosses and lichens. The dominant plants are creeping vasculars, dwarf shrubs, and rushes.
Among the mammals we find the caribou or reindeer and the musk ox, the predators are the brown bear, the wolf and the arctic fox. Herbivorous mammals are the Arctic hare and the Lemines.
The climate of the tundra biome corresponds to polar climates; temperatures above 0 ºC last 6 to 10 weeks a year, while the soil remains under permafrost for much of the year.
Examples of tundra found in Norway and Finland.
Boreal forest or taiga
It is an evergreen forest in the northern hemisphere of trees with needle-shaped leaves, dominated by conifers. It encompasses regions of cold continental and sub-arctic climates of the Eurasian and North American continents.
The boreal forest consists mainly of spruce, pine and larch trees, which are characterized by pointed leaves. The little sunlight that reaches the forest floor allows only a few grasses and shrubs, except at the edge of the forest.
The characteristic mammals of the boreal forest belong to the weasel family such as ermine, mink and sable. You can also get the lynx and the beaver.
The elk is the largest herbivore associated with the taiga. Other mammals that live in the boreal forest of western North America include the bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and deer.
We find examples of the boreal forest in Alaska (USA), Quebec (Canada) and in Moscow (Russia).
Temperate broadleaf deciduous forest
It is the terrestrial biome of continental temperate climates, where trees with thin and broad leaves that fall in winter predominate. At this time, the trees go into a dormant period that protects them from the wind and low temperatures.
The beginning of spring is found with bare trees, which allows solar radiation to reach the ground, favoring the growth of a layer of herbs and shrubs. The characteristic trees of the temperate forest are oak and maple. Fruiting plants are common.
The fauna is quite rich, characterized by squirrels, deer, raccoons and black bears. Some animals hibernate for the winter, such as bears, while others occasionally awaken to eat, such as squirrels.
Birds can be omnivorous or feed only on seeds. They are present throughout the year, like woodpeckers, which can feed on insects present under the bark of trees during winter.
Examples of temperate forests are found in Puerto Montt (Chile), in Iowa (USA) and in Luxembourg.
Mediterranean forests and scrub
The Mediterranean forest and scrub biome occurs in areas with hot dry climates in summer and cold and humid climates in winter, as occurs in the Mediterranean region. This biome is limited between 30 and 40 degrees latitude in both hemispheres. They are also called chaparral.
It is characterized by a vegetation rich in shrubs, with reduced leaves and a waxy cover, such as rosemary, bay leaf, sage and thyme.
The animals associated with this biome are few, such as birds and reptiles.
Examples of the Mediterranean biome are found in Greece and San Diego California.
This biome is associated with semi-arid continental climates in mid-latitudes. Perennial grasses and herbs are the predominant vegetation, as they are adapted to seasonal temperatures and the amount of annual rainfall.
The fauna of the grasslands is of little diversity. In North America, the bison, antelope, prairie dog, and marmots are common. Among the carnivores are the coyote, the badger and the ferret.
Grasslands are known as steppes in Russia and Ukraine, grasslands in North America, and pampas in South America.
The tropical savanna thrives in tropical climates with distinguishable dry and wet seasons. The total annual precipitation is between 760 and 1270 mm of rain, where five months a year it receives less than 125 liters per square meter.
The vegetation is characterized by a layer of grass, on which are scattered trees and shrubs, leaving open spaces.
The African savannah features the largest variety of hoofed animals, such as antelopes, gazelles, buffalo, zebras, rhinos, wild boars, and elephants. In general, these animals live in collective groups, in order to protect themselves from predators, such as hyenas, jackals and felines.
Examples of tropical savanna are found in Nigeria, Kenya, and Brazil.
It is the most complex and diverse terrestrial biome on the planet. It is located in the equatorial zone between 10 degrees north and 10 degrees south, where the ideal climatic conditions for the growth of vegetation are presented. Throughout the year, temperatures are warm and humidity is constant.
Vegetation occurs in three layers: the canopy of emergent trees, the layer on top of the tree roof, and the layer below the roof. Broad-leaved evergreen trees are typical of this biome. Below the tree roofs, shrubs and small trees are stunted by the poor lighting that reaches the forest floor.
Some plants grow on trees, from where they can capture light and water, such as ferns, orchids, and bromeliads. Lianas and climbing plants are also available, as well as parasitic plants that feed on tree roots.
Animal life is very diverse and rich, adapted to living in trees. As the vegetation persists throughout the year, the availability of food is secure. Characteristic animals are brightly colored, such as butterflies, birds, and frogs; They can also be very noisy, like monkeys and gorillas.
Examples of rainforest are found in Brazil, Colombia, and Papua New Guinea.
The desert biome is characterized by flora and fauna adapted to living in arid conditions. The rains add up to less than 250 liters per square meter throughout the year. There are cold deserts and warm deserts, depending on the geographic location and temperatures.
Shrubs and bushes are the predominant vegetation, with small leaves, often with thorns or spikes. The root system is shallow and widespread, to ensure that the little rain that falls can be absorbed quickly. This type of vegetation is known as xerophyte. Other plants, known as succulents, store water inside, such as cacti.
The most common desert animals are reptiles, such as lizards and snakes, and birds that can fly to get their water.
Examples of cold desert are found in Turkestan (Kazahstan) and of hot desert in Arizona and Namibia.
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Rivers are aquatic biomes closely linked to the ground, where living beings are adapted to the constant movement of water. Rivers are found in all regions of the planet and are characterized by constant remodeling.
Trees such as willows and poplars thrive on the banks. Organisms such as algae and cyanobacteria live in streams. Bacteria are the food of protozoa and small invertebrates, and these, in turn, the food of larger fish and invertebrates.
Examples of rivers are found in the Amazon River, the Orinoco and the Usumacinta.
Wetlands are freshwater biomes characterized by soils saturated or flooded with water for much of the year. They can be formed by the rains or by the high level of the underground layer of water.
Depending on the type of prevalent vegetation, three types of wetlands are distinguished: swamps, swamps and marshes.
In wetlands, living things have to adapt to low oxygen levels. For example, some plants have structures, such as pneumatophores, that direct oxygen to the roots.
Insects, such as mosquitoes and dragonflies, commonly live in wetlands. Amphibians are also characteristic of this biome, such as toads, frogs and salamanders, in addition to some reptiles, such as crocodiles and turtles.
Examples of wetlands are the Centla swamps in Mexico and the Ciénaga Grande in Colombia.
It is the saltwater biome made up of the expanse of continental land that is permanently submerged. It is understood from the lowest part of the tide until when the depth in the sea reaches 200 meters. This area is very rich and productive, so it has a very important economic interest.
Mollusks, sea cucumbers, urchins, crabs, stingrays and flatfish abound.
Coral reefs, forests and seagrass beds are found in this biome.
It is the saltwater biome that occupies 65% of the earth’s surface and the least explored. It covers maritime areas with a depth greater than 200 meters, and can reach more than 11 thousand meters at the bottom of the Mariana Strait, in the Pacific Ocean.
The ocean floor is cold, dark and high pressure, extreme conditions that few organisms can withstand.
The best known predators in the open sea are sharks, manta rays, tunas, and swordfish, which feed on small invetebrates and fish.
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