What are the Seven Major Biomes?

S. Mithra

Biologists have organized all the life on Earth into four levels of complexity and interaction. In this schema, species of organisms live in "communities" where they compete for food and habitat. At the next level, communities interact in an "ecosystem." The ecosystem includes weather and geology of the area in addition to plants and animals. For example a specific forest qualifies as an ecosystem. Then, taken together, those ecosystems that share major characteristics of terrain create a biome. A biome is united by temperature, precipitation, soil type, vegetation, latitude, and elevation. At the most macroscopic level reigns the biosphere of our Earth that contains all the life we know exists in the universe.

Forests are one of the seven major biomes.
Forests are one of the seven major biomes.

Biomes are spread across the Earth's surface. That is, part of the Florida Everglades have more in common with India, in terms of ecosystems, than it does with Georgia right next door. Treating the world as a system of biomes allows biologists to study climate, geology, endangered species, agriculture, and many related subjects. Biomes were formed at different stages of Earth's evolution, depending on the presence of organic matter, water, plate tectonics, and where, in terms of latitude, the terrain lies. Since the Earth is tilted on its axis, and moves around the sun, latitude can tell us how much light hits the surface.

Grasslands are also known as savannas.
Grasslands are also known as savannas.

The seven major biomes are divided into six terrestrial (ground) and one aquatic (water) biome. The aquatic biome can be categorized as both marine and freshwater biomes. Sometimes freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, and underground aquifers belong to the surrounding terrestrial biome. The terrestrial biomes are tundra, rainforest, grasslands (also called prairie or steppe), taiga (boreal or coniferous forest), desert, and temperate (deciduous) forest. Some biologists define more than seven major biomes, adding chaparral, mountain, island, or tropical dry forest. Other biomes are further subdivided, such as deep ocean, open ocean, and shallow ocean marine biome, or the hot and cold deserts.

Biomes were formed at different stages of Earth's evolution, depending on the presence of such things as plate tectonics.
Biomes were formed at different stages of Earth's evolution, depending on the presence of such things as plate tectonics.
The ecosystem in the open ocean is much different than coastal ecosystems.
The ecosystem in the open ocean is much different than coastal ecosystems.
Climate and natural forces such as wind play a major role in shaping the desert biome.
Climate and natural forces such as wind play a major role in shaping the desert biome.
Temperate rainforests are a type of rainforest.
Temperate rainforests are a type of rainforest.
Some biologists consider islands to a biome in addition to the seven major biomes.
Some biologists consider islands to a biome in addition to the seven major biomes.
The terrestrial biomes include rainforests, which are home to a variety of animals, including gnatcatchers.
The terrestrial biomes include rainforests, which are home to a variety of animals, including gnatcatchers.
Forests are home to many animals, including the tawny frogmouth.
Forests are home to many animals, including the tawny frogmouth.

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Discussion Comments

anon163264

what is the difference between a biome and ecotone?

FernValley

Biomes also explain why things like global climate change are much more complicated than people on either side of the argument want to believe.

Many people like to say that a very hot summer in one region is a sign of climate change, or a very cold winter elsewhere is a sign that climate change is false; the fact is that biomes all react differently to weather and have their own extremes. The biggest issue of global climate change, previously called global warming, is that these extremes get bigger. Suppose that suddenly there is more snow in London, for example, in the winter, and more intensely hot days in the summer, than ever before. If this trend continues and grows even more for several years, it is a sign of climate change issues; the concept of higher temperatures does not necessarily mean it will be warmer everywhere all of the time, just that the norms in different areas change, and that change is reflected differently in each biome.

DentalFloss

@anon18856, to some extent biomes have really evolved independently of one another, though if there is any real "determining factor" it is probably the presence of bodies of water. For example, a biome right next to a river will likely be wetter than land far from any large water source. At the same time, this is not a fast and true rule either.

anon18856

what factors determine the type of biome that will be found in a particular area?

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