Where could this picture have been taken?
This is an example of a chaparral. This biome is usually characterized by dwarf trees and tangled shrubs. Although this is a picture along a Colorado road, you can also find this biome in southern California, the Mediterranean region in Europe, and many other places.
A terrestrial biome is an area of land with a similar climate that includes similar communities of plants and animals. Different terrestrial biomes are usually defined in terms of their plants, such as trees, shrubs, and grasses.
Factors such as latitude, humidity, and elevation affect biome type:
Latitude means how far a biome is from the equator. Moving from the poles to the equator, you will find (in order) Arctic, boreal, temperate, subtropical, and tropical biomes.
Humidity is the amount of water in the air. Air with a high concentration of water will be called humid. Moving away from the most humid climate, biomes will be called semi-humid, semi-arid, or arid (the driest).
Elevation measures how high land is above sea level. It gets colder as you go higher above sea level, which is why you see snow-capped mountains.
Terrestrial biomes include grasslands, forests, deserts, and tundra. Grasslands are characterized as lands dominated by grasses rather than large shrubs or trees and include the savanna and temperate grasslands. Forests are dominated by trees and other woody vegetation and are classified based on their latitude. Forests include tropical, temperate, and boreal forests (taiga). Deserts cover about one fifth of the Earth’s surface and occur where rainfall is less than 50 cm (about 20 inches) each year. Tundra is the coldest of all the biomes. The tundra is characterized for its frost-molded landscapes, extremely low temperatures, little precipitation, poor nutrients, and short growing seasons. There are two main types of tundra, Arctic and Alpine tundras. Terrestrial biomes (Figure below) lying within the Arctic and Antarctic Circles do not have very much plant or animal life. Biomes with the highest amount of biodiversity, that is the most variation in plant and animal life, are near the equator (Figure below).
One of the terrestrial biomes, taiga, is an evergreen forest of the subarctic, covering extensive areas of northern North America and Eurasia. This taiga is along the Denali Highway in Alaska.
Another terrestrial biome is tropical rainforest. The one pictured here is located in the Amazon basin north of Manaus, Brazil.
biodiversity: The number of different species or organisms in an ecological unit (i.e. biome or ecosystem).
desert: Biome with less than 50cm/year rainfall.
elevation: Measure of how high land is above sea level.
grassland: Biome characterized as lands dominated by grasses rather than large shrubs or trees.
forest: Biological communities that are dominated by trees and other woody vegetation.
humidity: The amount of water in the air.
latitude: Distance of a place north or south of Earth's equator.
terrestrial biome: An area of land with similar climate that includes similar communities of plants and animals.
tundra: Biome noted for its frost-molded landscapes, extremely low temperatures, little precipitation, poor nutrients, and short growing seasons; the coldest of all the biomes.
- Factors affecting biome type include latitude, humidity, and elevation.
- Terrestrial biomes include the tropical rainforest, chaparral, and tiaga.
Use the resources below to answer the questions that follow.
- Where are some locations at which tropical rainforests occur?
- What 4 physical characteristics are necessary for life to persist? Of these 4, which 2 explain the pattern of terrestrial biomes?
- What adaptations do all desert plants share regardless of the specific desert they inhabit? How does this relate to the classification of deserts as a type of biome?
- How much precipitation do savannas receive annually? Over what period of time do they receive this precipitation? How does this affect the animals living in this biome?
- How do the physical characteristics of savannas lead to their dominance by grasses?
- What adaptations have trees developed to survive in the savanna biome?
- How are terrestrial biomes defined?
- Give two examples of terrestrial biomes.