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  mountain lake

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.

Intro to Deserts

  Hot Deserts
      Food Web
      KCalorie Pyramid

  Cold Deserts
     Food Web
     KCalorie Pyramid

Rainfall

Less than 10 inches

low

mountain lake

Rain Forests

Tropical Rain Forests
   Food Web
    KCalorie Pyramid

Temperate Rain Forest
     Food Web
    KCalorie Pyramid 

Rainfall

More than 60 inches

heavy
Coniferous Forests
 Food Web
 KCalorie Pyramid

 Rainfall
12 - 33 inches
medium
 
Tundra
  Food Web
  KCalorie Pyramid 

Rainfall
 Less than 10 inches
low

Grasslands
   
Food Web
    KCalorie Pyramid

  Savannas

10 - 30 inches

medium
Aquatic Communities
    
Fishes

Variable Rainfall
Deciduous Forests
  Food Web
  KCalorie Pyramid

 30 - 60 inches

medium

 Special Effects Section: Latitude and Altitude

 Carrying Capacity

 Growing Seasons

 Reproductive Strategies

 Following the Energy Trail -- Figuring Out Your Planet's Energy Budget

The Caloric Content of Foods

Some Animal Weights and Caloric Requirements on Earth

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 micro-climates 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.


Photograph from a Corel CD-ROM : for viewing only, not for downloading.     More Information.
Copyright © 1999.   Elizabeth Anne Viau and her licensors.  All rights reserved. This material may be used by individuals for instructional purposes but not sold. Please inform the author if you use it at eviau@earthlink.net