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The Biosphere includes all places where life exists on Earth

Geographical distribution of species within the biosphere depends largely

on climate

Climate refers to average weather conditions over time

Regional climates differ because many factors that

influence winds and ocean currents vary from place to

Cloud cover



Wind speed

Seasonal Effects

Seasonal changes in day length and temperature arise because Earth's

axis is not perpendicular to the plane of Earth's elliptical orbit around the

Extent of seasonal change in day length increases with latitude

25 N or S of the equator, day length is a bit less than 14

hours; 60 N or S longest day length is 19 hours

June, Northern Hemisphere angled towards sun, more intense

sunlight and longer days than the Southern Hemisphere

December, the opposite occurs

Twice a year, spring and autumn equinoxes, Earth's axis is

perpendicular to incoming sunlight

Every place on Earth has 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of


Air Circulation and Rainfall

Equatorial regions receive more sunlight energy than higher latitudes for
two reasons

Greenhouse gases, dust, and water vapor absorb some solar

radiation or reflect it back into space
Sunlight travelling through more atmosphere to reach Earth's
surface than light travelling to the equator = less ground energy
reaches the ground

Energy in an incoming parcel of sunlight is spread out over a smaller

surface area at the equator than at higher latitudes

Earth's surface warms more at the equator than at the poles

Regional differences in surface warming give rise to global air circulation

and rainfall patterns

Two properties of air

As air warms, it becomes less dense and rises

Hot air balloons

Warm air can hold more water than cooler air

See breath in cold

Global air circulation pattern begins at the equator, where intense

sunlight heats air and causes evaporation from the ocean

Result = upward movement of warm, moist air

As this air rises to higher altitudes, it cools and flows N and S,

releasing moisture as rain

This rain supports tropical rain forests

30 N or S, air has given up most moisture, so little rain falls here

Most deserts

Air has cooled and sinks toward Earth's surface

As air continues flowing along Earth's surface toward the poles,

it again picks up heat and moisture

60 N or S, warm, moist air rises again losing moisture as it does


This rain supports temperate zone forests

Cold, dry air descends near the poles

Precipitation is sparse, and polar deserts form

Surface Wind Patterns

Major wind patterns arise as air in the lower atmosphere moves

continually from latitudes where air is sinking toward those where air is

Earth's rotation affects the direct of these winds

Air masses are not attached to Earth's surface, so the Earth

spins beneath them, moving fastest at the equator and most
slowly at the poles

Air mass moves away from the equator, the speed at which the
Earth rotates beneath it continually slows

Resultantly, major winds trace a curved path relative to Earth's


Northern Hemisphere, winds curve toward the right of their

initial direction

Southern Hemisphere, winds curve left

30-60 N, surface air traveling toward the North Pole is

deflected right, toward the East

Winds are named for the direction from which they blow

Prevailing winds in the US are westerlies, blow from West to East

Winds blow most consistently from one region where air is rising to
another such location.

Where air actually rises, winds are intermittent

As in the doldrums near the equator

43.2: How do currents and landforms affect climate?

Ocean Currents
Latitudinal variations in sunlight affect ocean temperature and set major
currents in motion

At the equator, vast volumes of water warm and expand, increasing

the sea level by 8cm, 3in, higher than at poles

This "slope" starts sea surface water moving toward the poles

As the water moves toward cooler latitudes, it gives up heat to

the air above it

Directional movement of the surface currents is influenced by

Major winds

Earth's rotation

Distribution of land masses

Surface currents circulate clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere

Counterclockwise in Southern Hemisphere

Swift, deep, and narrow currents of water flow away from the equator
along the coast of continents

Along east coast of North America, warm water flows North = GULF

Slower, shallower, broader currents of cold water parallel the west coast of
continents and flow toward the equator

Ocean currents affect climate

Pacific Northwest coasts are cool and foggy In summer

Because cold California current chills the air, water condenses

out of the cooled air as droplets

Boston and Baltimore are warm and muggy in summer because

air masses pick up heat and moisture from the warm Gulf
Stream, then flow over these cities

Regional Effects

Differences in the ability of water and land to absorb and release heat give
rise to coastal breezes
Daytime, land warms faster than water

As air over land warms and rises, cooler offshore air moves in to
replace it

Sundown, land cools more quickly than eater

Breezes reverse direction

Differential heating of water and land causes Monsoons = winds that

change direction seasonally

Continental interior of Asia heats up in summer, air rises above it;

moist air from over the warm Indian ocean, to the south, moves in,
replaces the rising air, and north blowing wind delivers heavy rains

In winter, continental interior is cooler than the ocean; cool, dry

wind blowing from the north toward southern coasts causes
seasonal drought

Proximity to an ocean moderates climate

Seattle, Wa has milder winters than Minneapolis, Mn, though Wa is

slightly farther N

Air over Seattle draws heat from adjacent Pacific Ocean

Mountains valleys, and other surface features affect climate too

Warm air mass picks up moisture off California's coast

Moves inland as wind from the west and piles up against the
Sierra Nevada, high mountain range that parallels the coast

Air cools as it rises in altitude and loses moisture as rain =

rain shadow

Rain Shadow = a semiarid or arid region of sparse rainfall on the

leeward side of high mountains

Leeward is the side facing away from the wind

Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, and other great mountain

ranges cast similar rain shadows

43.3: What are the major biomes?

Differences among biomes

Biomes are areas of land characterized by their climate and type of


Biomes are vast expanses of land dominated by distinct kinds of

plants that support characteristic communities; they vary in their
primary productivity

Most consist of widely separated areas on different continents

Ex.)temperate grassland includes areas of North American

prairie, South African veld, South American pampa, and
Eurasian steppe



Deserts have highest

Tundra have least


Deserts receive least

Grasslands and shrublands get more

Forests get most


Deserts have sandy or gravelly, fast-draining soil

Little topsoil

Grasslands have greatest topsoil, up to 1m thick

Reason its used for agricultural purposes

Water and air fill spaces between soil particles

Soil particles vary based on


Compaction of particles

Similarities within a biome

Unrelated species living in widely separated parts of a biome often have

similar structures, arose by morphological convergence

Morphological convergence =
the evolution of apparently similar structures in organisms of different lin
es of descent.

Evolution often produces similar solutions to environmental

challenges in different parts of the globe

North American cacti & African euphorbs

Both have water storing stems and live in deserts

DO NOT share a common ancestor

Independent evolution as a result of environment

C4 plants

Evolved independently in grassing growing in warm grasslands

on different continents

Under hot, dry conditions, C4 photosynthesis is more efficient

than the more common C3 pathway

43.4: What is the most productive biome?

Tropical rain forests = highly productive and species-rich biome in which year-
round rains and warmth support continuous growth of evergreen broadleaf

Near the equator, year-round warmth and rains support tropical rain forests,
the most productive, structurally complex, and species-rich biome.

Greatest primary production of all biomes

Per unit area, remove more carbon from the atmosphere than
other forests or grasslands

Dominated by evergreen broadleaf trees

Can stand 30m, 100ft, tall

Often form a closed canopy preventing sunlight from

reaching the forest floor

Vines and epiphytes thrive in this shade

Form mainly between latitudes 10 S

Equatorial Africa, East Indies, South America, and Central


Conditions result in year-round photosynthesis

Rain falls throughout the year

Sums to annual 130-200cm, 50-80in

Temperatures are warm

25C; 77F

Day-length has little variation

Most structurally complex & species-rich biome

Age is key to diversity

Tropical rain forests are the oldest modern biome

Some have existed more than 50 million years

Plenty of time for evolutionary branching

Greatest number and variety of insects

Most diverse collection of birds and primates

Shed leaves continually with sparse litter

Decomposition and mineral cycling happens very quickly

Due to warm, moist environment

Soil is weathered and heavily leached

Poor nutrient reservoir

Not ideal for agricultural use

Nevertheless, deforestation is an ongoing threat to tropical rain


Developing countries with fast-growing human populations use

the forest as source of lumber, fuel, and potential cropland

Leaves fewer trees to remove CO2 from the atmosphere

Causes extinction of species found nowhere else in the world

Among plant losses are life-saving chemicals

Two chemotherapy drugs were extracted from rosy


Native to Madagascar's rain forests

43.5: What types of forests occur in cooler climates?

Temperate Deciduous Forests

Temperate deciduous forests = Northern Hemisphere biome, main plants

are broadleaf trees that lose their leaves in fall and become dormant
during cold winters

Limited to Northern Hemisphere

Occurs in

Eastern North America

Most species-rich example of temperate deciduous


Different tree species characterizing forests in

different regions

Appalachian forest
Mainly oaks

Ohio's forests



Western and central Europe

Asia areas such as Japan

Dominated by broadleaf trees that lose all their leaves seasonally

before a cold winter

Leaves often turn color before dropping

Trees remain dormant while water is locked in snow and ice

Spring: when conditions favor growth

Deciduous trees flower and put out new leaves

Leaves shed from previous winter decay to form rich humus

Rainfall moderate year-round

50-150cm, 20-60in



Semi-open canopy

Lets some sunlight through

Allows shorter understory plants to flourish

Temperate broadleaf forests grow in the Northern Hemisphere where cold

winters prevent year-round growth

Coniferous Forests

Conifers are the main plants in coniferous forests

Conifers tolerate poorer soils and drier habitats than most broadleaf
Conifers withstand cold better than other trees

Trees with seed-bearing cones

Adaptations help conifers conserve water during drought or

frozen ground

Leaves are often needle-shaped

Thick cuticle and stomata that are sunk below the leaf

Shed and replace leaves CONTINUALLY

Conifers dominate high-latitude boreal forests (taiga) which are Earth's

most extensive biome

Boreal forest, "swamp forest" in Russian = Extensive high-latitude forest

of the Northern Hemisphere; conifers are the predominant vegetation

Most extensive land biome is the coniferous forest that sweeps across
norther Asia, Europe, and North America

Conifers also dominate temperate lowlands along the

Pacific coast from Alaska into norther California

These forests hold the largest trees

Sitka spruce to the north

Coast redwoods to the south

Pine forests cover 1/3 of the Southeast

Fast growing loblolly pines dominate these forest

and are a major source of lumber

1/4 New Jersey is pine barrens = a mixed forest of pitch

pines and scrub oaks that grow in sandy, acidic soil

Montane coniferous forests coniferous forests extend southward

through the great mountain ranges

Highest elevations: Spruce & Fir dominate

Lower elevations: firs & pines mix

Rain falls mostly in summer; winters are long, cold, and dry
43.6: What are the fire-adapted biomes?

Plants adapted to periodic lightning-ignited fires dominate grasslands,

savanna, and chaparral

Grasslands = Biome in the interior of continents; perennial grasses and other

non-woody plants adapted to predominates of grazing and fire

Form in the interior of continents

Between deserts and temperate forests


Often converted to cropland


Deep layer of topsoil

Annual rainfall is enough to keep desert from forming

Low-growing grasses and other non-woody plants are tolerant of

Strong winds

Sparse and infrequent rain

Intervals of drought

Growth tends to be seasonal

Shrubs and trees don't usually take hold

Constant grazing

Periodic fires

When fire is suppressed by human activity, can allow

woody plants to overgrow low-grasses

North American grasslands = prairies

Once covered much of the continent's interior

Where summers are hot and winters are cold and snowy

Predators and prey are largely absent

Supported herds of elk, pronghorn antelope, and bison

Prey to wolves

Nearly all prairies have been plowed under and now sustain
production of wheat or other commercial crops

Savannas = Biome dominated by perennial grasses with a few scattered

shrubs and trees

Broad belts of grasslands with a few scattered shrubs and trees

Form between tropical forests and hot deserts of Africa, India, and

Temperature remains high year-round

Rain falls seasonally

Famous for abundant wildlife

Herbivores include giraffes, zebras, variety of antelopes, and

immense herds of wildebeests

Chaparral = biome of dry shrubland in regions with hot, dry summers and cool,
rainy winters

Dominated by drought-resistant, fire-adapted shrubs

Small, leathery leaves help withstand drought

Many chaparral plants produce aromatic oils to fend off insects,

highly flammable

After fire, plants resprout from roots and fire-resistant seeds


Occurs along the western coast of continents

Between 30 & 40 latitude

Rainfall is moderate in mild winters; summers are hot and dry

California's most extensive ecosystem

Also occurs in Chile, Australia, and South Africa

43.7: What is the driest biome?

Desert biome has low rainfall; poor, salty soil; and large swing in daily

Deserts = Biome with little rain and low humidity; plants that have water-
storing and water-conserving adaptations predominate

Cover 20%, 1/5, of Earth's land surface

Form mostly about 30 latitude

Where dry air sinks

Rain is less than 10cm, 4in, per year

Rain shadows also reduce rainfall

Chile's Atacama Desert is on leeward side of the Andes

Himalayas prevent rain from falling in China's Gobi desert

Humidity low

Low water vapor results in larger daily temperature shifts than

other biomes

With little water vapor to block sun's rays, intense sunlight

reaches and heats the ground

At night, lack of insulating water vapor in the air allows the

temperature to fall quickly


Very little topsoil


Rain evaporates before seeping into the ground, allowing any

salt in rainwater to accumulate at the surface

Adapted to Drought
Despite harsh conditions, most deserts support plant life

Desert plants

Desert plants have water-conserving adaptations

Often have spines or fuzz at their surface

Deter herbivory

Reduce water loss

By trapping some water and thus, keeping the humidity

around the humidity around the stomata high

Other adaptations to reduce water-loss

Where rain falls seasonally

Some plants reduce water loss by producing leaves only

after rain, then shedding them when dry conditions return

Others store water in their tissues

Barrel cactus has spongy pulp that stores water; after

a rain the stem swells, then shrinks as the plant uses
stored water

Woody desert shrubs have extensive, efficient root systems that

take up the little water that is available


Roots can tap into water as deep as 60m, 197ft

beneath soil surface


Alternative carbon-fixing pathway benefits

CAM plants



Only open their stomata at night

Reduces water loss to evaporation

Most deserts contain a mix of annuals and perennials

Annuals are adapted to desert life by a life cycle that allows

them to sprout and reproduce in the short time the soil is moist

Desert Crust

A diverse community of plants, fungi, and microorganisms holds desert

soil particles together, forming a crust-like structure at the soil surface

Desert crust forms at the surface of many desert soils

The crust is a community






Organisms secrete molecules that "glue" them and the

surrounding soil particles together

Benefits members of the larger desert community in several ways

Nitrogen fixation by bacteria, making this nutrient available to


Holds soil particles in place

When fragile connections are broken, soil can blow away

Negative effects of such disturbance increase when

windblown soil buries healthy crust in an undisturbed

Killing more crust organisms and allowing more

soil to evnetually take flight
43.8: What is the coldest biome?

Arctic tundra = higher-latitude Northern Hemisphere biome, where low, cold-

tolerant plants survive with only a brief growing season

Arctic tundra prevails at high latitudes, where short, cool summers

alternate with long, cold winters

Extends between the ice cap of the North Pole and belts of boreal forests
in the Northern Hemisphere

Mostly in Northern Russia and Canada

Youngest modern biome

First appeared 10,000 years ago when glaciers retreated at the end
of the last ice age

Harsh conditions

Snow blankets the ground for as long as nine months

Precipitation annually is less than 10 inches, 25cm

Cold temperatures keep the snow that does fall from melting

Brief summer

Plants grow quickly under near continuous sunlight

Main producers are lichens and shallow-rooted, low-growing plants

Even at midsummer, only the surface layer of tundra soil thaws

Below that is permafrost, a continually frozen soil layer, as deep as

500m, 1600ft, lying beneath arctic tundra that prevents water from

Barrier that prevents drainage

Soil above is constantly waterlogged

Organic matter builds up in the permafrost

One of Earth's greatest stores of Carbon

Cool, anaerobic conditions

Slow decay

43.9: What are the main types of freshwater ecosystems?


A lake is a body of standing fresh water

If sufficiently deep, it will have zones that differ in physicial

characteristics and species composition

Nearest the shore

Littoral zone

Sunlight penetrates all the way to the bottom

Aquatic plants are main producers

Open waters

Limnetic Zone

Well lit

Main producers are members of phytoplankton

Group of photosynthetic microorganisms that

serve as food for zooplankton

Green algae



Zooplankton feed on phytoplankton

Such as copepods

Profundal Zone
Light does not penetrate

Thus, no photosynthesis occurs

Consumers depend on food produced above

Debris that drifts down feeds detritivores and


Nutrient Conditioning and Succession

A lake undergoes succession; changes over time

Newly formed = oligotrophic

Deep, clear, and nutrient poor

Over time= eutrophic

Eutrophication = processes, natural or artificial, that

enrich a body of water with nutrients

Increase in nutrients allows more producer growth and

primary productivity rises

Seasonal Changes

Temperate zone lakes undergo seasonal changes that affect primary


Water is not densest in its solid state

Density increases until 39F, after that its density decreases with
temperature decrease

Why ice floats on water

Water closest to ice is near freezing, water at bottom is

warmer and densest, 39F

In spring, winds cause currents that lead to a spring to overturn,

during which oxygen-rich water in the surface layers moves down
and nutrient-rich water from the lake's depths moves up