Climate regions on earth are divided into what we refer to as biomes. A biome is a region with distinctive climactic [text annotation indicator] conditions. It is also characterized by the particular organisms that live within that region. Our planet contains several distinct biomes. Forests are areas that are predominated by large trees. There are four distinct types of forest biomes: tropical rain forests, temperate rain forests, temperate deciduous forests, and taigas. Tropical rain forests occur in a belt around the Earth near the equator. The defining characteristics of this biome are the large diversity of organisms, high humidity, heavy rainfall, and the fact that there is little seasonal variation in climate and temperature due to proximity to the equator.
Temperate rain forests are found in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand. The key characteristics of this biome are cool temperatures and heavy rainfall. In North America almost 2/3 of the temperate rain forests are located in the Pacific Northwest. It contains mostly conifer trees and has a very large biomass (total amount of living things).
Temperate deciduous forests generally occur between 30˚ and 50˚ north latitude. Temperate deciduous forests used to cover a large portion of North America, Europe, and Asia. The defining characteristics of this biome are that most trees lose their leaves in the fall. There are also extreme seasonal variations in climate and temperature such as moderate to heavy rainfall. In North America, it contains mostly broadleaf trees such as oaks and maples. It is located primarily in the eastern half of North America. The color of the leaves change as the season changes. It serves as the habitat for the American black bear, bald eagle, and Eastern cottontail.
The taiga is the last type of forest biome. This biome, which can also be called the northern coniferous forest, stretches in a band across the northern hemisphere and just below the Arctic Circle. Important characteristics of the taiga include long, very cold winters, a short growing season, constant daylight during the summer, and most precipitation that falls is in the form of snow.
Grasslands are areas that are defined by an abundance of perennial grasses. There are two distinct types of grassland biomes: tropical grasslands and temperate grasslands. Tropical grasslands, or savannas, are found in the West African plains in areas around the equator that get too little rain for many trees to grow. The key characteristic of this biome is that the vast majority of precipitation that this biome receives falls during one certain time of the year [text annotation indicator] . Temperate grassland biomes include prairies, steppes, and pampas and are found in the interiors of continents where there is not enough rain for trees to grow. Temperate grasslands have the most fertile soil of all the biomes.
The chaparral is a biome that is found in mid-latitudes, primarily in coastal areas with Mediterranean climates. Characteristics of the chaparral include hot – dry summers, mild – wet winters, and little variation in seasonal temperatures. Desert biomes are defined as areas that receive less than 25 cm of precipitation per year. Contrary to what many people think, deserts can be hot or cold.
The tundra is a biome devoid of tall trees that is located north of the Arctic Circle. Defining characteristics of the tundra include short summers which results in a short growing season, a layer of permafrost, permanently frozen soil, and very little rainfall.