to Alien Bodies
Introduction to Biomes
A biome is an area with a specific
climate together with the animals and plants that live there.
There are a number of major biomes on earth, and different
ways of classifying them. I have chosen six main biomes, and
have added a section on aquatic communities.
These are the biomes that I have chosen. Each one can be subdivided
into many more precisely described biomes, with more specific
rainfall amounts, growing seasons, and elevations. However, in
a ten week course, I think that these will be more than enough!
It is important to remember
that a biome contains smaller, specialized communities. For instance,
a forest includes meadows, streams, rocky areas and bogs. A desert
includes oases, sand dunes, rocks and gullies. Aquatic communities
may live in fresh or salt water, shallow or deep water, rocks
and mud flats. Obviously these smaller zones will also have different
which provide habitats for plants and animals not commonly found
in the surrounding area.
It seems possible that climatic zones
with similar temperatures and rainfalls exist on other planets.
Some alien biomes might seem familiar to us, but others might
be amazingly different. Will there be life in these zones? We
can only guess. Life on this planet survives in conditions where
tempertures allow terrestrial biochemistry to work. Some marginal
zones, such as the ocean bottoms, the near-boiling hot springs
in Yellowstone, and very cold areas in the Antarctic, support
life forms with unique, specialized adaptations. Could their
biochemistry be the norm somewhere else? Who knows? Yet life
forms must adapt to their environments everywhere. To start thinking
about this, let's see what earth's biomes are like.
In order for life to evolve,
conditions must be the same over long periods of time. On land,
temperature, elevation, and rainfall are important variables.
Over many generations, animals and plants adapt to the conditions
where they live. When climates change, the animals and plants
adapt to the changes or die out.
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