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Terrestrial Biomes

Teacher/Instructor Patrick Roisen
Patrick Roisen

M.Ed., Stanford University
Winner of multiple teaching awards

Patrick has been teaching AP Biology for 14 years and is the winner of multiple teaching awards.

A biome is a type of ecosystem with similar life forms and environmental conditions. Terrestrial biomes can be affected by factors like plant types and spacing, rainfall and humidity, soil type, latitude and altitude. Examples of common terrestrial biomes include tundra's, taigas and tropical rainforests.

A lot of times stereotypes are given a bad wrap but in some cases stereotypes actually can help us understand things very quickly and easily, an example of a relatively the name stereotype is the stereotype that we have of different kinds of cities and towns. If you want to understand how somebody grew up and understand the kind of environment they are in if you ask them "where do you live?" And they named of some place that you never heard of, you might ask them "what kind of town is it?" If they said it's a suburb or big city or a farming community you'd instantly kind of know the environment that they grew up in.
In ecology they use something called biomes to kind of play the part of the kind of town that you grew up in. So a biome is the type of ecosystem and those two terms are often used interchangeably. A biome is a type of ecosystem based on the kind of climate and the kinds of organisms that are found within that biome. Now there's many factors that go together and make the characteristics that are unique to each biome, things include the kind of plants you find there and their distribution, how they come together or spaced out that kind of stuff as well as the other sorts of organisms you stereotipically found within each biome, the kind of rainfall and humidity that you give, the soil type, the latitude and altitude because even if you have a really rainy place it's up on the side of the mountain it's very different than a rainy place say in the middle of Kansas.
Now some examples of biomes because there's many kinds of biomes and I don't have the time right now to go through each one of them, but this gives an idea of the sorts of things that you would see as biomes. One would be Tundra, this is what you would call the areas near the North pole where you have an average temperature ranging from about 12 degrees below zero to 6 degrees below zero Celsius that's pretty damn cold and you have less than 25 centimeters of rain annually and you will find a kind of soil called permafrost that's permanently frozen ground. Now another kind of biome that you often is something called Taiga and the first time I saw that I though somebody was misspelling the word tiger but Taiga is the kind of stuff that you would find say in much of Canada you have what is called coniferous forest what is that? that means they have a lot of pine corns right, now you get it conifer trees, this is below the arctic circle where the temperature is usually below freezing at least half of the year but it does get warm during the summer and you'll have somehow between 30-85 centimeters of rainfall yearly. Well Tropical rainforest is near the equator or tropics and the average temperature is typically between 20-25 degrees Celsius it doesn't get much hotter than that or much colder than that, it's always a nice relatively warm area and you have a 190 centimeters of more of rainfall annually, that's taller than me in water.
So that gives you a sense of some of the kinds of biomes and this map here shows here's a bunch of different kinds of biomes and you can see how they're distributed across the world with these dark green areas, here for example representing those Taigas that I was mentioning before. So you can see there's areas in the middle that are the deserts and you can see as you get further away from the equator i.e. changing latitude which tend to get these burns of different kinds of biomes.