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Alpine Tundra

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ALPINE TUNDRA

  • Seasons: Climate Depending
  • Climate: Alpine Altitude
  • Vegetation: Grasses, Moss
  • Precipitation: Varies
  • Temperature: Cold

The highest regions of the world, alpine tundra is a mountain zone that is above the tree line. Mountain zones are very different from most biomes because they receive their climate through altitude, not latitude. Although the effects of latitude are still the same, hence why this region is referred to as a tundra. Because they are the peaks of the tallest mountains, alpine tundra often escapes seasonal change are cold ecological islands for the creatures that are adapted to live there.

Primary Biome for: Snow Leopard, Alpine Ibex, Markhor

Examples: High-altitude regions of the Alps, Himalayas, Rockies, Andes

Montane

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MONTANE

  • Seasons: Climate Depending
  • Climate: Subalpine Altitude
  • Vegetation: Varies
  • Precipitation: Varies
  • Temperature: Cooler

Another mountain zone, montane includes mountainous areas beneath the tree line. The temperature of this biome varies with elevation as vegetation is more cold-hardy toward the top. Plant species composition is derived by the latitude that the mountains are located in. Endemic animal species tend to be rich due to specific adaptations for the rough terrain and climate. Every kind of plant community can be found in a montane biome because of a variety of microclimates.

Primary Biome for: Ethiopian Wolf, Giant Panda, Red Panda

Examples: Sierra Navadas, Qinling Mountains, Ethiopian Highlands

Boreal Forest

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BOREAL FOREST

  • Seasons: Long Cold Winter, Short Dry Summer (2)
  • Climate: Subpolar
  • Vegetation: Short Conifers
  • Precipitation: Low
  • Temperature: Cold 

Also known as taiga, they are most cold hardy of forest biomes. Boreal forest is located in sub polar latitudes below the Arctic circle. There is no boreal forest in the Southern Hemisphere because the continents do not extend to the South Pole enough. Trees in this forest type are almost all conifers and are short and stubby due to the extreme cold for most of the year. The needles of pine trees help keep leaves evergreen and prevent them from freezing.

Primary Biome for: Wolverine, Eastern Timber Wolf, Moose, Grizzly Bear

Examples: Canadian Forests, Siberia

Tundra

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TUNDRA

  • Seasons: Long Cold Winter, Short Dry Summer (2)
  • Climate: Polar
  • Vegetation: Moss, Lichen
  • Precipitation:Very Low
  • Temperature: Very Cold

A treeless plain is the main form of this biome. Tundra is found at near the poles in the upper regions of Eurasia and North America, but it can also be found on a few islands before Antarctica. Permafrost, frozen layers of soil, is close to surface due to cold temperatures so moss and lichens dominate this “grassland.” North of the boreal forests, the climate is even colder and there are only two seasons of summer and winter. Summer in the tundra is above freezing but the daytime highs are still very cool.

Primary Biome for: Musk Ox, Barren-Ground Caribou, Arctic Wolf

Examples: Arctic Tundra, Kerguelen Islands, South George Island

Cold Desert

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COLD DESERT

  • Seasons: Hot Summer, Cold snowy winter (2)
  • Climate: Temperate
  • Vegetation: Shrubs, Grasses
  • Precipitation: Very low
  • Temperature: Cold

Very low precipitation is the determining factor of all deserts. Cold deserts have very cold temperatures typically due to elevation and are in the rain shadows of high mountains. These deserts are usually found in temperate zones and have hot summers and cold winters with snow. Due to winds and almost no rainfall, vegetation in cold deserts is non-existent but there can sometimes be short grasses that give the resemblance of grassland.

Primary Biome for: American Mustang, Bactrian Camel, Tibetan Antelope, Guanaco

Examples: Great Basin, Tibetan Plateau, Patagonian Desert, Gobi Desert, Atacama

Hot Desert

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HOT DESERT

  • Climate: Subtropical
  • Vegetation: Heat-adapted
  • Precipitation: Very Low
  • Temperature: Very Hot
  • Seasons: Hot Year-round with some cool periods (1)

These deserts feature the same arid conditions as cold deserts but are found in subtropical areas. Temperatures are always exceptionally hot and very rarely drop below freezing. Rain will only come a few times a year and will feed the few species of vegetation that can grow there. Succulents are desert plants that hold water inside of their tissue during the year to withstand the lack of water.

Primary Biome for: Addax, Scimitar-Horned Oryx, Fennec Fox, Striped Hyena

Examples: Sahara, Namibia, Thar Desert, Great Australian Desert

Temperate Grassland

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TEMPERATE GRASSLAND

  • Seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring (4)
  • Climate: Temperate
  • Vegetation: Grasses
  • Precipitation: Low
  • Temperature: Warm

This grassland biome is found in temperate regions where the climate is semi-arid to semi-humid. The amount of vegetation and the type of grasses typically depend on the amount of rainfall in a region. In a grassland, climax forest vegetation is usually halted by a shorter fire regime. Temperate grasslands are usually found toward the interior of continents near deserts and temperate forests and have four seasons.

Primary Biome for: American Bison, Saiga, Przewalski’s Wild Horse

Examples: Great Plains, Mongolian Steppe, Pampas

Tropical Savannah

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TROPICAL SAVANNAH

  • Seasons: Varied lengths of Dry and Rainy Season (2)
  • Climate: Tropical
  • Vegetation: Grass, Trees
  • Precipitation: High
  • Temperature: Hot

These savannas are found within the tropics and feature a tree canopy that never closes. Due to the warmth and high rainfall of the tropics, woody plants tend to grow much faster than temperate grasslands. Therefore, grasses will be present with sparse distributions of shrubs and thorny trees. This variety of plant life has led to many different niches for a diversity of herbivores. Seasons in a tropical savanna have a dry season and a rainy season.

Primary Biome for: African Elephant, Giraffe, Maned Wolf, Indian Rhinoceros

Examples: Serengeti, Llanos, Carpentaria Savanna, Cerrado, Terai-Duar Savanna

Tropical Forest

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TROPICAL RAINFOREST

  • Seasons: Year-round Rain (1)
  • Climate: Tropical
  • Vegetation: Broadleaf Evergr.
  • Precipitation: Very High
  • Temperature: Hot

Most tropical rainforests, or moist forests, are located near the equator and tend to be hot and humid, but have the highest concentration of rainfall anywhere. Due to high amounts of sunlight and year-round rainfall, these rainforests are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world and have a large diversity of species. Trees are evergreen and have broad-leaves. Several different layers of vegetation are also prominent in a tropical rainforest and many species have become adapted to these different layers.

Primary Biome for: Mountain Gorilla, Jaguar, Javan Rhinoceros, Malayan Tapir

Examples: Congo Basin, Amazon, Western Ghats, South Pacific Island Forests

Tropical Dry Forest

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TROPICAL DRY FOREST

  • Seasons: Long Dry Season, Short Monsoon Season (2)
  • Climate: Subtropical
  • Vegetation: Broadleaf Decid.
  • Precipitation: High
  • Temperature: Hot

Also called monsoon forests, these forests tend to be in tropical to sub-tropical latitudes and have a distinct dry season and wet season. Trees in this biome are smaller than tropical rainforests and are also mostly deciduous. The trees here drop their leaves in periods of drought and go dormant until the monsoon season revitalizes them. Not all trees are deciduous though, as more light penetration leads to a more dense undergrowth layer than rainforests with a few evergreens.

Primary Biome for: Asian Elephant, Bengal Tiger, Komodo Dragon, Nilgai, Spectacled Bear

Examples: Gran Chaco, Atlantic Dry Forests, Cape York Peninsula, Deccan Peninsula

Temperate Forest

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TEMPERATE FOREST

  • Summer, Fall, Witer, Spring (2)
  • Climate: Temperate
  • Vegetation: Broadleaf Decid.
  • Precipitation: High
  • Temperature: Warm

Dominated by hardwoods, temperate forests have a diverse understory of many plant species. Conifers can still be present, but most trees are deciduous hardwoods that drop their leaves in winter. Temperate forests are known for their four seasons which will have a more or less severe winter depending on their proximity to the equator. More subtropical temperate forests tend to be warmer and may go without snow and just have a rainy season.

Primary Biome for: Common Turkey, Koala, Red Deer, Amur Leopard

Examples: Amur Forest, East Australia Forests, Appalachian Mountains

Temperate Rainforest

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TEMPERATE RAINFOREST

  • Seasons: Long Wet Season, Short Dry Season (2)
  • Climate: Temperate
  • Vegetation: Tall Trees
  • Precipitation: Very High
  • Temperature: Cool

These temperate forests are found in the same latitudes of temperate forests, but are typically located on west side of continents due to cold ocean currents that dump off large amounts of rainfall along a coast. Humidity is typically high and there is a strong presence of epiphytes and moss. The tallest trees in the world live in this zone due to the rain, and, unlike most temperate forests, these forests are dominated by conifers. Due to the wealth or resources, distinct species are hard to identify for this biome.

Primary Biome for: Black-tailed Deer, Tasmanian Devil, Southern Pudu, Kodkod

Examples: Pacific Northwest, Valdivian Forests, Tasmania, Atlantic Oakwood Forest

Semi-Desert

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SEMI-DESERT

  • Seasons: Hot Dry Summer, With Cooler Fall, Winter, & Spring (4)
  • Climate: Subtropical
  • Vegetation: Shrubs
  • Precipitation: Low
  • Temperature: Warm

Despite its name, Mediterranean scrub is a unique climate that is found on every continent but Antarctica. This biome has dry summers and cool wet winters, a very small seasonal difference in comparison with other biomes. This is a coastal biome like temperate rainforest. Evergreen shrubs are the most dominant but woodlands and grasslands can also be found due to the geographic variation and a fire regime. Due to the density of shrubs, large megafauna are not common in this biome.

Primary Biome for: Spanish Lynx, Bontebok, Quokka, Channel Islands Fox, California Quail

Examples: Southern California, Mediterranean Basin, South West Australia, Cape of South Africa, Central Chile

Temperate Coast

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TEMPERATE COAST

  • Habitat: Reefs, Submerged Vegetation, Cliffs, Beaches
  • Climate: Temperate
  • Water: Cool Eutrophic

The coast is a rugged area where the land meets the sea. Coastal typologies can vary from smooth beaches to rugged bluffs. This biome includes temperate cool waters, which are rich in nutrients due to coastal upwelling that brings nutrients near the shore. Large kelp beds and other submerged vegetation is found here and is the staple for the marine ecosystem. Water here is typically cloudy due to the high amount of nutrients, which is called eutrophic water.

Primary Biome for: Southern Sea Otter, California Sea Lion, Bottlenose Dolphin

Examples: North Atlantic coasts, Sea of Japan, California kelp forests, Humboldt Current

Tropical Coast

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TROPICAL COAST

  • Habitat: Coral Reefs, Mangroves, Cliffs, Beaches
  • Climate: Tropical
  • Water: Warm Eutrophic

Coasts in tropical latitudes tend have warmer waters and thus support larger amounts of species. Tropical coral reefs can be found in these regions corals that secrete calcium carbonate on rocks or the ocean floor. Coral reefs support a huge amount of diversity in microscopic organisms and tropical fish. Mangroves are a unique plant community that can also be found on tropical coasts. These trees are adapted to saline conditions and are severely threatened areas.

Primary Biome for: Green Sea Turtle, Manatee, Black-tipped reef Shark, Manta Ray

Examples: Gulf of Mexico, Great Barrier Reef, South Pacific Reefs, Sea of Arabia

Pelagic

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PELAGIC

  • Habitat: Open Ocean
  • Climate: Tropical & Temperate
  • Water: Warm Eutrophic

This biome is an open ocean marine zone. Productivity per space is very sparse here due to the lack of nutrients, but it is the largest kind of habitat anywhere. Plant life is nonexistent and primary productivity is left to phytoplankton found near the surface. Due to this, most animals here are opportunists and consume energy when they can.

Primary Biome for: Short-finned Pilot Whale, Leatherback Sea Turtle, Scalloped Hammerhead

Examples: Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean

Benthic

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BENTHIC

  • Habitat: Ocean Floor, Deep Sea Trenches
  • Climate: N/A
  • Water: Cool Eutrophic

Found in the deepest of ocean trenches, little is known about this region but scientific advancements have given researches some look into it. This marine zone is devoid of sunlight, but many species have adapted to exist without it. Some species can produce their own source of light called bioluminescence. Many invertebrates are adapted to live under these dark conditions and are called benthos.

Primary Biome for: Goblin Shark, Angler Fish, Giant Squid

Examples: Japan Trench, Puerto Rico Trench, Mariana Trench

Polar Ice

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POLAR ICE

  • Habitat: Ice Sheets, Polar Waters
  • Climate: Polar
  • Water: Cold Eutrophic

Found at the poles, these waters tend to be covered in ice. The climate here is persistently cold and snowy. In the Arctic Ocean, a sheet of ice covers the water and many species have adapted to live over and under the ice. Conservely, Antarctica is a continent covered in ice with an ice shelf extending into the ocean. Phytoplankton are the main producers in these waters as close to zero plants can live in these cold waters

Primary Biome for: Emperor Penguin, Beluga Whale, Narwhal, Walrus, Polar Bear

Examples: Arctic Ocean, Antarctica

Freshwater

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FRESHWATER

  • Habitat: Lakes, Rivers, Streams, Ponds, Estuaries

These ecosystems exist in a variety of typologies including: rivers, lakes, and streams. All freshwater ecosystems capture water that falls in a watershed and direct water to a concentrated location, which can either be the ocean or a closed basin. Freshwater ecosystems are severely dependent on the movement of nutrients coming into their system to supply aquatic flora and fauna. Plant life has to be tolerant of submerged conditions in a freshwater ecosystem.

Primary Biome for: Nile Crocodile, Hippopotamus, Indian Gharial, Nile Perch, Wels

Examples: Nile River, Indus River, Amazon River, Lake Victoria, Danube River

Palustrine Wetland

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PALUSTRINE WETLAND

  • Habitat: Marshes, Swamps, Bogs, Fens, Vernal pools, Floodplains

A wetland is a place that has moist conditions and soil is saturated for most of the year. These places are not regional biomes but definable areas of marshes, swamps, bogs, fens, vernal pools, and floodplains. A wetland can have trees and shrubs growing in and does not always have to have water. Water can be present underground or seasonal. Plants in a wetland are adapted for low-oxygen conditions due to frequent and variable periods of inundation.

Primary Biome for: American Beaver, Florida Panther, Pere David’s Deer, Red Lechwe

Examples: Everglades, Okavango River Delta, Patanal, Kakadu Wetlands, Camargue

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