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Published by Allen A. Espinosa

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Published by: Allen A. Espinosa on Jan 25, 2012
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Name: ___________________________

Section: ______ Date: ____________

Terrestrial Biomes
Worksheet in NATSC13-Ecology

Introduction What is a biome? Ecologists use the term biome to designate any of the major communities of organisms on land. A land or terrestrial biome is defined by its distinctive vegetation (plant life forms) and its character is mainly determined by temperature, rainfall, topography, and soil type. Temperature and rainfall are the most important factors that determine the distribution of the major terrestrial biomes. Generally, the higher the rainfall and temperature of the area, the greater the number and the larger the size of the plants it can support. For our purpose, we will only consider seven major terrestrial biomes namely: tundra, taiga, temperate deciduous forests, temperate grassland, tropical rainforest, tropical grassland, and desert. Tundra is the most continuous of the Earth’s biomes, forming a band around the north pole. The average temperature is -10°C and the region is characterized by permanently frozen subsoil, the permafrost, and seasonal melt of snow. It has a limited precipitation of only about 10-25cm per year. Taiga is also known as the boreal or coniferous forests. Like the tundra, taigas are regions dotted by lakes, ponds and bogs, and characterized by very cold winters, as in large parts of Scandinavia, Russia and Canada. However, the taiga has slightly higher precipitation and longer and warmer summer than the tundra. During this time, the subsoil thaws and vegetation grows rapidly. Temperate deciduous forests are regions characterized by hot summers and pronounced winters, together with rainfall of between 75-125cm per year. The temperate region of the earth is distinguished by its four seasons. Grasslands cover almost all regions of the earth. There are two distinct types of grasslands – the temperate and the tropical grasslands. Very large area of the temperate regions are covered with grasslands characteristic of habitats where summers are hot, winters are cold, and rainfall is relatively low and variable, ranging from 25-75cm per year. Temperate grasslands are variously known as prairies (North America), pampas (South America), steppe (Asia), veldt (South Africa). Tropical grasslands are found in the tropical and subtropical regions where average rainfall is not high enough to support a forest. They are also known as the savannah. Savannah is a grassland with scattered individual trees. Tropical grasslands are found in areas of low or seasonal rainfall with prolonged dry periods such as parts of Africa, South America and northern Australia. The temperature of this biome vary little and seasons are regulated by rainfall rather than temperature, unlike the temperate grasslands. The average rainfall is between 85-150cm per year.

Deserts are very dry areas found in both the temperate and tropical regions, mainly between 15° and 40° north and south of the equator. They include the great deserts such as the Namib and the Kalahari of South Africa, the Sahara in North Africa, the Arabian desert and the coastal Atacama desert of Peru and Chile. The low humidity of the desert atmosphere leads to a wide daily temperature ranges. Deserts generally receive less than 25cm of rainfall per year. Tropical rainforests occur near the equator where rainfall is high throughout the year and temperature is consistently warm: in South and Central America, West and Equatorial Africa, Southeast Asia including the Philippines, Indonesia and northeast Australia. The annual rainfall is between 200-450cm, much of it is derived from transpiration (loss of water vapor by plants) from the lush vegetation itself. Of all the biomes, the tropical rainforests have the highest biodiversity. Sixty percent of the total species on earth is found in the tropical rainforests. One of the main ecological characteristics is their fragility – once destroyed, they are very slow to regenerate, if it happens at all. Perhaps the most famous tropical rainforest in the world is the flooded forest of the Amazon in Brazil. Its rich wildlife is subject to international trafficking by some unscrupulous individuals in exchange for several thousands of dollars. The tropical rainforests of our planet are fast disappearing, maybe even faster than we realize. We need to do something positive before they are forever gone! Learning Objectives In this activity, you will be able to: 1. distinguish among the different types of biomes in terms of climate, location, and resident plants and animals, 2. identify countries where a given biome may be found, and 3. appreciate the importance and role of each biome in the maintenance of ecological balance. Learning Tasks 1. Identify the biome described in the following items.

____________________1. Has the highest biodiversity ____________________2. During the summer, the subsoil thaws and vegetation grows very rapidly ____________________3. Very wide temperature range – very cold at night but extremely hot during noontime ____________________4. Also known as savannah ____________________5. Characterized by permanently frozen soil known as permafrost ____________________6. Summers are hot,winters are cold, with rainfall averaging from 2575cm per year ____________________7. Characterized by hot summers and pronounced winters, with rainfall between 75-125cm per year

2. Fill-in the table with the required information. To successfully complete this task, you will need to refer to printed or online references. Please provide clear and concise answers. Abiotic factors Climate (length Biome and number of seasons) Desert Amount of precipitation per year Biotic factors Resident plants (at least 3) Resident animals (at least 3) Location (at least 2 countries where you can find this biome)


Temperate deciduous forest

Temperate grassland

Tropical grassland

Tropical rainforest



a. Why is there a need to preserve all the biomes on earth? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ b. If you were given the chance to live anywhere else on Earth, where will you want to be? What made you chose this place? Be sure to consider ecological conditions in your choice. ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________

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