A biome is a region of the Earth’s surface that presents similarities in terms of climate, flora, and fauna, thus constituting areas identified by the set of ecosystems predominant in them. Also called biotic area or bioclimatic landscape.
In this way, taking into account their basic and determining characteristics, such as latitude, temperature, height, soils, and rainfall, it is possible to trace different of these regions on the Earth’s surface, attending to the complex relationships between soil, vegetation, and fauna to define each one separately.
The same biome can have different local names, but biogeographically enter the same category. Furthermore, the term biome should not be confused with others such as ecozone, habitat or ecoregions.
The number of biomes in the world is finite and covers all the places known to date, namely:
- 14 terrestrial biomes
- 12 freshwater biomes
- 5 marine biomes
Steppe. Biome scarce in rainfall, flat territory, and herbaceous vegetation is usually found far from the sea, in regions of wide thermal variation and soils rich in minerals but scarce of organic matter. It is often considered a cold desert, as opposed to the torrid ones, although they tend to occupy smaller areas, such as the steppes of Asia, North America, and Argentine Patagonia, or the high plateau of the Andean Puna.
Desert. Predominantly arid biome, with little rainfall and little vegetation, although flora and fauna tend to adapt to harsh living conditions. There are warm deserts, such as the one that covers the north of Africa (the Sahara), or frozen or polar deserts, such as the frozen plateau of Antarctica, whose cold climate prevents the formation of rain. In this sense, sandy, rocky and icy deserts can also be found. It is an extensive biome, covering almost a third of the planet: 50 million square kilometers, of which 53% are from warm weather and the rest from cold weather.
Tundra. Characterized by its low temperatures and frozen soil, the tundra is a low vegetation biome typical of the polar zones, which occupies a fifth of the planet’s surface. With an important presence of mosses, lichens and swampy soil, abundant in peat bogs, the tundra is frequent in Siberia, Alaska, Canada Greenland, in the northern hemisphere, and the southern ends of Chile and Argentina, as well as the nearby sub-Antarctic islands. at sea level, in the other sphere. These are biomes close to the polar circles and that is why they are usually from cold climates and short summer, whose maximum temperatures do not exceed 10 ° C. On many occasions, permafrost (freezing of the ground) can occur.
Meadow. This biome includes temperate grasslands and bushes, located in areas of very low precipitation (300 to 1500mm per year) to house forests, but enough not to be considered desert areas. Its fertile soil, with many layers and abundant organic matter as a result of the short life cycle of the vegetation, is ideal for growing corn, wheat other food plants. Its cold winters and warm summers are typical of the North American areas or the Argentine pampa, as well as the South African Veld or the Austrian savanna.
Chaparral. Known as the Mediterranean forest , it is characteristic of regions with a pleasant climate, with more or less abundant rainfall in winter and hot, dry summers in which there is a danger of fire. They are typical biomes from the Mediterranean area, California and the northwestern Mexican coast, as well as Chile and Australia. They do not usually have a very high animal biodiversity, although in the European case that of migratory birds is. This does not mean that it is an uninhabited biome: it usually houses large numbers of insects, lizards and rodents.
Taiga. Also called boreal forest , the taiga is the largest forest area on the planet. Its almost exclusive vegetation of tall conifers and evergreen, such as firs, maples and pines, and they present abundant herbivorous fauna. Geographically they are exclusive to the northern hemisphere, staying in Siberia and European Russia, as well as Alaska and Canada, where it is besieged by the steppe to the south and the tundra to the north.
Rain forest. Occupying large regions near the equator, both in South America (the Amazon), and in Africa (the Congo jungle), Asia and Oceania, it is the most abundant and biomass biome on the planet. Its lush vegetation of high altitude and abundant canopy guarantees a fertile and humid soil, also thanks to frequent and abundant annual rainfall and the warm climate without winter. The forests are the great reservoir of biodiversity in the world (50% of known species) despite occupying a strip of less than 7% of the Earth’s surface.
Savannah . The transition areas between jungles and semi-deserts are usually called this way, since they combine forest and grassland characteristics. They are found in tropical and subtropical zones with a dry climate, such as the Serengeti in Tanzania or the Colombian-Venezuelan plains. The vegetation in the savanna is shrubby or herbaceous, and its warm and friendly climate, between 20 and 30 ° C.
Manglar . These biomes formed in intertidal (near the sea) areas of tropical and intertropical latitudes, are characterized by the abundant presence of trees tolerant to salinity of water and the environment (usually mangroves), as well as a diverse and abundant fauna of the type coastal. They are typical amphibian habitats and waters provided with abundant organic matter, such as marshes and estuaries, with soft bottoms of sand, silt or clay.
Deciduous forest. A rare biome in the world, it is a temperate forest of deciduous trees adapted to the duality of a cold and dry winter climate, and a hot and humid summer, such as fir and elm. It is also known as temperate broadleaf forest and can be found in the northern hemisphere in humid continental areas of Japan, Korea, Canada, Russia, and the United States.
Humedal . Areas with high humidity, generally flat, generally flooded and low in oxygen, are grouped with this name, a mixture between the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems: swamps, swamps, marshes, peatlands, as well as, depending on the classification, mangroves and estuaries of rivers or seas. These areas rich in decomposing organic matter have hydrophytic vegetation, amphibian fauna and abundant endemic species.
Oceans . The oceanic biome comprises the set of seas and oceans, as well as its coastal strips, from which they are distinguished according to the depth reached by the water. They are areas of gigantic predominantly coastal, reef and deep biodiversity, as well as abyssopelagic: adapted to the strips without light and enormous pressure from the seabed. Marine flora is restricted to phytoplankton, algae, and other minor plant forms.
Sweet waters . In this group are the great rivers and lakes, as well as the icy waters of the poles, whose presence is less saline and is distinguished from the ocean biome. They abound with amphibian and reptile species, birds and insects adapted to aquatic life, as well as freshwater fish and mixed vegetation, algae and lilies. The polar case is an exception, since life subjected to polar aridity is restricted to endemic species and certain forms of moss and resistant vegetation.
Anthropogenic biomes . Perhaps the most complicated biogeographical category, since it aspires to account for the areas in which man has left his mark and has adapted the climate, soils, vegetation and fauna to his mercy, both directly and indirectly. There the cities and urban landscapes would enter , but it is a category in necessary discussion.
Oasis . Found within the warm desert biome, they are spaces of abundant water and vegetation, and therefore fauna, emerged in the middle of the sandbanks. In many of them there are human settlements and even crops, such as those of the Sahara, the Arabian peninsula or Parras de la Fuente in Mexico.