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A biome is a geographically extensive ecosystem where all flora and fauna are found collectively. It is the total assemblage of plant and animal life interacting within the biosphere. Biomes are defined by abiotic factors like, relief, climate, soils and vegetation. They are classified into two broad categories, terrestrial biomes and aquatic biomes.
Terrestrial biomes is a group of living organisms that live and interact with one another on land. They are mainly determined by temperature and rainfall. Some of the major terrestrial biomes of the world are
A. Tropical Forest Biomes
B. Tropical Savanna Biomes
C. Desert Biomes
D. Temperate Grassland Biomes
E. Tundra Biomes
The tropical forest biome is comprised of several sub-biomes, including evergreen rainforest, seasonal deciduous forest etc.
This biome extends between 10° N and 10° S of the Equator. Central and South America possess half of the world’s tropical forests. The climate in these biomes shows little seasonal variation with high annual rainfall and relatively constant, high temperature. This unique weather condition favours thick vegetative cover.
Tropical forests have the highest biodiversity and primary productivity of any of the terrestrial biomes. The Amazon basin, Congo basin and Indonesian islands are the major regions of this biome. These regions have very dense forests and so have great economic importance. Human settlements are found scattered here. They sustain their livelihood through food gathering, fishing, lumbering and shifting cultivation. Due to the humid nature of this biome, the people get afflicted to tropical diseases like malaria, yellow fever etc. The chief trees found here are rubber, bamboo, ebony, etc. Bats, pheasants, jaguars, elephants, monkeys etc. are the important birds and animals found here.
Tropical grasslands are generally found between tropical forests and deserts. Tropical Savanna biomes are found between 10o to 20o N and S latitudes. These grasslands are generally flat and are found in the Sahel, south of Sahara in East Africa and in Australia. This biome is generally hot and dry and experiences moderate to low rainfall. So, the grass which grow here are tall and sharp. Hence the chief occupation of the people found here is herding. The primitive people living here are nomadic.
The common animals found here are the lion, leopard, tiger, deer, zebra, giraffe etc. Flora such as Rhodes grass, red oats grass, lemon grass etc. are found in this biome.
Deserts are usually found on the western margins of the continents between 20° and 30° N and S latitudes. The annual rainfall is less than 25 cm in these regions. Due to the lack of rainfall and arid conditions, these regions do not possess any vegetation but have special vegetation type called Xerophytes. As the soil is sandy and saline, deserts remain agriculturally unproductive. Drought resistant thorny scrubs and bushes, palms are found here.
Tribal people who live here practice food gathering and hunting. They move their temporary settlements frequently in search of pastures. Transportation becomes very difficult here and is carried on by camels. Reptiles like snakes, lizards, scorpions etc., are most commonly found here.
Temperate Grasslands are usually found in the interior of the continents and are characterized by large seasonal temperature variations, with warm summer and cold winter.
The type of grassland in these regions strongly depends upon precipitation. Higher precipitation leads to tall and soft grass and lower precipitation leads to short and soft grass. These regions favour wheat cultivation. Extensive mechanised agriculture is practised due to lack of farm labour. Pastoral industry becomes the main occupation, thereby facilitating slaughtering of animals, packing of raw and processed meat, dairy products etc. The common birds and animals are grass hopper, wolf, bison, prairie dog etc.
These vast lowlands are found where the ground remains frozen. Greenland, Arctic and Antarctic regions and Northern parts of Asia, Canada and Europe fall in this biome. These regions are also called Barren lands. This biome experiences long severe winter and short cool summer. Due to the prevailing of low temperature and short growing seasons, the net primary productivity is very low in tundra. People are nomadic. Hunting and fishing are their major occupations. The population here is extremely sparse and the harsh environment makes them change their settlement frequently.
They live in igloos in winter and in tents during summer. Arctic moss, Arctic willow, lichens etc. grow here. Fauna like the polar bear, wolverine, reindeer, snowy owl are found here.
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