What Makes A Biome?

What Makes A Biome?

Biomes are typically characterized by the resident biota within them. Currently, there is a disagreement in the scientific community about what exactly makes a biome.


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Biology, Ecology, Conservation, Earth Science


Deciduous Forest Fall

Trees in a deciduous forest during the fall.

Photograph by Clarita Berger/National Geographic Creative
Trees in a deciduous forest during the fall.
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Biomes are how scientists define different areas on Earth. Each biome has a certain climate. There are also plants and animals that are specific to that areas.

Biomes are sometimes confused with habitats and ecosystems. Habitats are the places plants and animals live. Ecosystems map the way plants and animals are connected to one another and their surroundings. Biomes look at organisms and the environment on a much larger scale. There can be many habitats and ecosystems in a single biome.

There are two main factors when scientists define a biome. One is the climate or the long-time average weather of a region. The other is the specific plants and animals in an area. The organisms in a biome often adapt to their environment. There are seven types of biomes based on these factors.

Tundra Biomes

The tundra has long, cold winters and cool summers. The animals here have become suited to survive in the cold. The mammals have thick fur. They hibernate, or go to sleep for months, to save their energy.

Desert Biomes

Deserts are dry. They can be in both cold and warm climates. Lifeforms in deserts are used to living with less water and nutrients.

Grassland Biomes

The grassland biome is on every continent except Antarctica. It is flat and grassy, with few trees. Mammals, birds, and predators live here.

Coniferous Forest Biomes

Coniferous forests are also known as taigas or boreal forests. They have long, cold winters and short summers. They also get heavy rain and snow. Conifers and evergreen trees, such as pine, grow here.

Deciduous Forest Biomes

Deciduous forest biomes have broad leaf trees, such as maple and oak. They lose their leaves when it gets cold. These grow in regions that are not too hot or too cold.

Tropical Rainforest Biomes

Tropical rainforests are near the equator. It is warm and wet. The soil is very rich in nutrients. Many types of plants and trees grow here.

Aquatic Biomes

Aquatic biomes are areas that include bodies of water. There are freshwater and saltwater biomes. Is the water deep? Is it salty? How warm or cold is it? The answers to these questions help define these biomes.

Biomes are not isolated. They run into one another. The regions between biomes are called ecotones.

Some scientists believe that we should talk about how humans affect biomes. They say humans destroy habitats. Humans also cause climate change. This will affect how biomes are defined.

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Clint Parks
Roza Kavak
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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