Introduction to Biomes

Biomes are the major regional groupings of plants and animals discernible at a global scale. Their distribution patterns are strongly correlated with regional climate patterns and identified according to the climax vegetation type. However, a biome is composed not only of the climax vegetation, but also of associated successional communities, persistent subclimax communities, fauna, and soils.

The biome concept embraces the idea of community, of interaction among vegetation, animal populations, and soil. A biome (also called a biotic area) may be defined as a major region of distinctive plant and animal groups well adapted to the physical environment of its distribution area.

To understand the nature of the earth’s major biomes, one needs to learn for each:

  • The global distribution pattern: Where each biome is found and how each varies geographically. A given biome may be composed of different taxa on different continents. Continent-specific associations of species within a given biome are known as formations and often are known by different local names. For example, the temperate grassland biome is variously called prairie, steppe, pampa, or veld, depending on where it occurs (North America, Eurasia, South America, and southern Africa, respectively).
  • The general characteristics of the regional climate and the limitations or requirements imposed upon life by specific temperature and/or precipitation patterns.
  • Aspects of the physical environment that may exert a stronger influence than climate in determining common plant growthforms and/or subclimax vegetation. Usually these factors are conditions of the substrate (e.g., waterlogged; excessively droughty, nutrient-poor) or of disturbance (e.g., periodic flooding or burning).
  • The soil order(s) that characterize the biome and those processes involved in soil development.
  • The dominant, characteristic, and unique growthforms; vertical stratification; leaf shape, size, and habit; and special adaptations of the vegetation. Examples of the last are peculiar life histories or reproductive strategies, dispersal mechanisms, root structure, and so forth.
  • The types of animals (especially vertebrates) characteristic of the biome and their typical morphological, physiological, and/or behavioral adaptations to the environment.

Note: This page has been translated into Ukrainian by Anna Matesh on her blog at and into the Macedonian language by Katerina Nestiva at . A Russian translation of the introduction by Sandi Wolfe may be found at And the page has been translated into Finnish by Elsa Jansson ( and Hungarian by Elana Pavlet ( A Bosnian translation has been prepared by Amina Dugalic and posted at A Czech translation by Sophia Yuyna of StudyCrumb appears at  Irina Vasilescu has translated the page into Romanian (, and Catherine Desroches from DoMyWriting has translated it into Swedish at A version in Slovenian has been made available by Sophi Spacilova at A Serbian translation by Branca Fiagic can be found at Deepak Khanna provides a Hindi translation at Uzbek version by Sherali Niyazova can be read at Spanish translation by John Long appears at Johanne Teerink provides a translation of the tundra page into Estonian at A Georgian translation by Ana Mirilashvili is available at Borisa Kovacevic has a translation in Bulgarian at Milica Novak provides a Croatian version at Alana Kerimova presents a Kazakh translation at You may read a Turkish version by Zoltan Solak at A German translation by Philipp Egger is available at, and a Dutch translation by Arno Hazecamp can be found at The Bydiscountcodes Team has translated the page into Punjabi at An Italian translation volunteered by James Galea ( is at Laura Himmer presents a Greek version atεισαγωγή-στο-biomes. Ashna Bhatt has a translation in Thai at Mary Walton has translated the page into Danish at A French translation by Sarah Richards, courtesy of Essay Writing Services, can be found at Rico Nizzo has translated the page into Arabic at Alison Carmel ( has a Romanian translation available at Lars Olden provides a Norwegian translation at A Mandarin version is available at Amir Abbasov provides a translation into Azerbaijanian at A Polish translation by The Word Point can be found at The page is available in Indonesian courtesy of Paul Diaz at A Spanish version may be found at A translation in the Marathi language prepared by Naresh Ram may be found at





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