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List of Aquatic and Terrestrial Biomes

written by: Krima Olive Molina • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/9/2012

Just what exactly distinguishes one biome from another? Biodiversity and climate are the primary factors in categorizing the various biomes, be they terrestrial or aquatic. Read on to find out more about these distinct ecosystems.

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    A biome is an ecosystem largely characterized by three vital factors: (1) climate (2) flora and (3) fauna. The interplay of these three results in distinct regions or areas on land and in water. Biomes that are found on land are called terrestrial biomes, while those that are found in water are termed as aquatic biomes. Under each of these two major categories are the various biomes that shall be enumerated below. Let us take a look at these biomes' plant life and climate.

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    Category 1) Terrestrial Biomes

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    Perched atop the globe is the tundra--the coldest biome on earth. Tundras have very simple vegetation that are barely supported by the ground's poor nutrition. Why is this so? Beneath the top layer of soil in tundras is a thin layer of permanently frozen soil called permafrost. Because of this, plants that attempt to grow on trundras can only root themselves through the thin top layer. The extremely cold temperature in tundras makes the biome habitable only by a very limited number of species, resulting in poor biotic diversity.

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    Making up the former glaciated areas on the upper part of the globe and below the tundras are the taigas--the second coldest biome. Taigas have patchy permafrost peppered all over the area, which is inhabited by needle-leaf, coniferous trees. Its cold, continental climate makes winter longer (up to six months) and summers shorter (50 days). Despite these conditions, taigas are home to a wide range of fauna, including mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

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    Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest

    queensland2 Known for its beautiful colors during fall, the most prominent vegetation in temperate broadleaf deciduous forests consists of plants that turn into red, orange, and gold during fall. These plants have five layers--trees, sapling trees, shrubs, herbs, and moss. Fauna is also quite diversified as omnivores and birds largely inhabit the area. The most pronounced temperate broadleaf deciduous forests are found in Western Europe, Eastern Asia, and Eastern North America.

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    Grasslands, Savannas and Shrublands

    Found both in the temperate and tropical regions, these three biomes have one thing in common: the existence of grasses and shrubs as their dominant vegetation. The soil of these biomes are predominantly fertile with abundant nutrients and minerals. In temperate regions, the climate is warm to hot with a very cold temperature during the winter season. In tropical regions, on the other hand, grasslands, savannas, and shrublands experience a wet-and-dry season. Fauna inhabiting these biomes are large grazing animals and birds.

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    desertdunes1 (1) You might think that deserts are devoid of life forms due to its very hot climate. On the contrary, deserts actually abound with diverse vegetation and life form. These life forms have astounding means of adapting to the harsh heat they are exposed to in this biome. Plants are mainly shrubs that tap deep into the ground to locate water sources located up to 20 feet below the surface. Reptiles, birds, and other warm-blooded animals have developed various adaptation strategies to help them survive the arid climate. Some use protective shells, release uric acid instead of urine, and get heat directly from the sun.

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    Category 2) Aquatic Biomes

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    Ponds and Lakes

    Due to their isolated nature, ponds and lakes have limited species diversity, with plankton perhaps being the most important living form in these biomes. Aside from plankton, other animals that inhabit these biomes are algae, crustaceans, crawling animals, some fish, and amphibians. Temperature in lakes and ponds vary depending on the season--during winter, the temperature goes down to 0 degrees Celsius; in the summer, the temperature goes up to 25 degrees Celsius.

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    Streams and Rivers

    These two biomes are characterized by their unidirectional water flow that starts from a source and ends at a mouth. Fauna is richer in the middle of a stream or a river, where the width becomes wider (thus accommodating more biodiversity); meanwhile, fauna is poorer at the mouth, where water is murkier because of the floating sediments the water picked up along the way. Temperature in streams and rivers varies--cooler at the source than at the mouth.

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    Marshlands and swamps, both wetlands, are the most diverse of all biomes in terms of animal species population. Because wetlands can be both freshwater and salty, many organisms inhabit the area such as fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, hydrophytes, trees, and grass. Wetlands are very humid and damp, encouraging more growth and proliferation of flora and fauna.

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    Oceans are considered to be the largest biome as it covers three-fourths of the earth's surface. It has a very wide range of biodiversity, and are divided into four zones that each have its own distinct flora and fauna. Oceans vary in temperature based on its given depth--colder as one goes deeper. Herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores live in oceans.

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    Coral Reefs

    reef01 The dominant fauna that propagate in coral reefs are, naturally, corals. Among the nooks and crevices of these corals live other animals such as plankton, algae, sea urchins, and smaller fish. Coral reefs live in shallow waters with warm temperature.

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    Because estuaries are where streams merge with the ocean, flora and fauna are supported by rich water and land nutrients. Among the living things that can be found in estuaries are mangroves, algae, seaweeds, marsh grass, shelled animals. The temperature in estuaries vary from warm to hot and humid.

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