Topic Overview: Overview
What is a biome? What do you know about biomes? To find out, try the online activity "Planning a Trip to Funworld." Or, try one of the other great activities on biomes. You may have questions. Don't worry. We gathered some facts about biomes.
Have you ever been to a zoo? Have you noticed the different parts of a zoo? Do the penguins live with the eagles? Do the zebras live with the whales? The answer to both of these questions is "no." These animals come from different parts of the world. For example, penguins live in very cold places. Eagles live in much warmer places. Zookeepers try to make the animals' home in the zoo like their home in the wild. To do this, zookeepers need to know about biomes.
There are many types of plants and animals on Earth. Certain plants and animals are often found grouped together. Each of these groups is found naturally only in certain places on Earth. In these places the plants and animals interact with each other. They make up ecological communities. These communities of plants and animals are called biomes. For example, panda bears and bamboo trees are often found together. They live in the mountains in southwestern China. That is their biome.
The plants and animals that make up a biome are determined by climate. Climate is a region's long-term pattern of weather. It is the average range of temperature and amount of rain or snow an area receives. Some biomes are hot. Some are cold. Some are wet. Some are dry.
Plants and animals in each biome have special traits. These traits help them live where they do. For example, polar bears have a lot of fat and thick fur. The fat and thick fur keeps them warm. These features allow polar bears to live in cold regions. At the same time, these features make it impossible for them to survive in hot regions.
The plants, animals, and climate of a region define a biome. Scientists classify Earth's biomes in many different ways. Some divide Earth into many small biomes. These biomes may be only slightly different from each other. Other scientists, however, divide Earth's surface into just a few major biomes. For example, a group of students at the University of California, Berkeley, created a list of The World's Biomes. This list includes only five major biomes. These biomes are forests, deserts, grasslands, aquatic, and tundra. The University of California students divide each of the five major biomes into smaller biomes. They list 13 subdivisions within these five major biomes. A sixth major biome that many scientists list is the chaparral.
Six of the major biomes on Earth are forests, deserts, grasslands, aquatic, tundra, and the chaparral.