8 TYPES of EARTH BIOMES - Characteristics, examples and photos

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The biomes of the world They encompass both terrestrial areas and those of fresh and marine waters that we can find in nature. In them, plants and animals coexist, developing their vital functions and constantly adapting to the climatic and ecosystem characteristics of their environment. This plant and animal biodiversity is characterized by appearing in a higher proportion in the biomes found in regions close to the equator, while at the poles, all biodiversity decreases. In this way, the equatorial rainforest biome is the biome with the greatest richness and biodiversity on the planet. It is important not to confuse the term biome with other terms frequently used in the world of ecology, such as habitat or ecozone.

In this Green Ecologist article we will focus only and exclusively on knowing the different terrestrial biomes. Read on to discover the main 8 types of terrestrial biomes different that exist on Earth.

What is a biome

We begin by clarifying the definition of a biome. The term biome, from the Greek "bios" (life), refers to the set of ecosystems found in a biographical zone determined. These ecosystems share the same climate, as well as the same flora and fauna. In this way, biomes are defined based on the plant and animal species that predominate in their area.

Also called biotic areas or bioclimatic landscapes, biomes express the ecological conditions of a certain place (region, continent and even on a planetary level), where the climate and the soil determine these conditions and make possible the development of the plant and animal communities characteristic of each biome.

Characteristics of terrestrial biomes

The biogeography It is the science that is responsible for the study and description of terrestrial biomes, thus establishing the most representative characteristics of these. Between the main characteristics of terrestrial biomes we find:

  • Temperature.
  • Rainfall
  • Other physical factors, such as latitude and altitude.
  • Plant structure (trees, shrubs and / or herbs).
  • Types of leaves that plants present (wide leaves or, on the contrary, acicular and needle-shaped). Related to the amount of light and water that plants are capable of capturing and absorbing to carry out the photosynthesis process. The type of leaf of the plants also indicates the ability of the plant to capture both carbon dioxide and moisture from the atmosphere.
  • Spatial distribution of plants, giving rise to biomes with a closed or open spacing.
  • The terrestrial biomes follow ecological succession patterns and present climax vegetation, that is, the plant communities that coexist present a state of almost equilibrium.

Apart from all these elements of terrestrial biomes, we can indicate that biogeography is also responsible for defining the types of biomes found in nature. Next we are going to comment what are the different types of terrestrial biomes.

Woods

Within the terrestrial biomes of forests, we can find:

  • Mediterranean scrub forests: with warm and semi-humid climates, whose rainfall is concentrated during the winter months. Here you can get to know the Mediterranean Forest better, its characteristics, flora and fauna.
  • Temperate coniferous forests and lush vegetation: its climate is temperate-cold and humid.
  • Dry and subtropical coniferous or hardwood forests: with a very marked tropical and semi-humid climate.
  • Tropical humid forests with lush vegetation: its climate is tropical humid. In this other post you will find information about tropical forests, their characteristics, flora and fauna.

If you want to know more examples of terrestrial biomes forest type, we invite you to read this other article about the types of forests that exist.

Desert biome

Other of the types or examples of terrestrial biomes they are deserts. The deserts of the world are characterized by having an arid, temperate or even tropical climate, depending on the region in which they are located. The lack of water and the presence of rains of irregular shape are present in all deserts.

In addition, they have marked evaporation phenomena from the little water they have, as well as a soil erosion persistent, due to the action of the wind and to the lack of vegetation or to the little amount that there is. This vegetation is usually widely distributed and has different adaptations to the climate in which it lives, such as long roots to absorb deep moisture from the soils and the ability to store water in its tissues, such as cacti.

Learn everything about the Desert, its characteristics, flora and fauna here.

Steppes

The steppe biome is characterized by having low rainfall and dry climates with extreme temperatures, whose thermal amplitude between the summer and winter seasons is very marked.

The steppes are large extensions of plains in which herbaceous vegetation predominates, specifically with low-lying grasses that constitute bushes. The bushes are plants adapted to the dry climate characteristic of this terrestrial biome, they present different adaptations to the scarcity of water.

Prairies

The meadows have average temperatures that range between -20 and 29 ºC. The vegetation that dominates this type of terrestrial biome is fundamentally herbaceous and grassland. In nature we find three types of grasslands:

  • Meadows in mountainous areas: alpine or mountain climate.
  • Meadows of temperate regions: temperate-semi-arid climate.
  • Meadows with tropical scrub: tropical-subtropical climate.

If you want to know more about this type of terrestrial biome, here we show you the Prairie Animals.

Savanna biome

A temperate and semi-arid climate characterizes the savanna biome of all the world. However, when the savannas are located in more tropical regions, the climate that characterizes them is subtropical or semi-arid.

They are large extensions located in Africa, South America, Northern Australia, India and Southeast Asia. Its vegetation, consisting mainly of trees and shrubs, is distributed in a very dispersed way. Both plant and fauna diversity have their growth and reproductive periods associated with the climatic changes suffered by the savannas.

Find out more about this terrestrial biome with Green Ecologist in this other article on What animals live in the African savannah.

Rain forest

The different tropical forests located both in South America, as well as in Asia, Africa and Oceania, are characterized by presenting very hot and humid climates, with abundant rains during all the seasons.

The vegetation that inhabits the tropical rainforest terrestrial biome it is mainly arboreal, with species of robust trunks and high height, as well as climbing plants. The biodiversity they harbor is the richest and most surprising, but at the same time, the most vulnerable and threatened of all terrestrial biomes.

Here you can discover more information about the flora and fauna of the rainforest.

Taiga, another of the important terrestrial biomes

The taiga, or boreal forest, presents a sub-arctic and humid climate, with temperatures reaching -40 ºC. We can find this biome in the mountainous areas of the northern hemisphere, both in Europe, as well as in Asia and North America.

The predominant vegetation is formed by the arboreal species of the coniferous family, with pointed leaves and covered with resins, such as firs and pines. Learn more about this biome here What is taiga: definition and characteristics.

Tundra biome

We finished talking about the different types of terrestrial biomes commented on the tundra. tundra terrestrial biome is of type temperate arctic, with temperatures ranging between -15 ºC and 5 ºC. We can find this terrestrial biome both in the Arctic (in what is commonly known as the "polar desert"), as well as in Antarctica and a good part of the Argentine-Chilean Patagonia, located in the Southern Cone of the American continent.

Learn more about this biome with this video and this other post about Tundra: characteristics, flora and fauna.

If you want to read more articles similar to Types of terrestrial biomes, we recommend that you enter our Ecosystems category.

Bibliography
  • Valladares, F. (2004) Ecology of the Mediterranean forest in a changing world. Ministry of the Environment, EGRAF. Chapter XV, pp: 425-460.
  • Terradas, J. (2001). Vegetation Ecology. Omega editions, Barcelona.
  • Altesor, A. (2003) The prairie biome. Terrestrial Ecology Section, Faculty of Sciences, UDELAR.
  • Odum, E. P. (1984) Ecology. Library of the Faculty of Agronomy and Zootechnics, National University of Tucum├ín, Argentina.
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