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The Biosphere and

Animal Distribution
Earth Environment - Overview
● Water has physical properties critical to life on
● The steady supply of sunlight maintains a
suitable range of temperatures for life
● Living matter requires a supply of major and
minor elements available on earth.
● The earth’s gravity is strong enough to hold an
extensive gaseous atmosphere.
Earth Environment
● The environment is modified by organisms.
● Organisms are adapted by evolution to the
● The earth is an open system with a continuous
supply of energy.
● Building materials for life come from producers
and are cycled through consumers.
● Life is part of a cycle of life-death-decay-
Earth Environment
● The primitive earth of
4.5 billion years ago
had a reducing
atmosphere of
ammonia, methane, and
water and was fit for
pre-biotic synthesis of
early living forms.
● This early
atmosphere would be
fatal to today’s
● The appearance of free oxygen in the atmosphere is an
example of the reciprocity of life and the earth.
● Living organisms produce changes in their environment
and must adapt and evolve.
● The biosphere
is the thin outer
layer of the earth
capable of
supporting life.
● Includes living
organisms as
well as the
Biosphere - Subdivisions
● Lithosphere – rocky material of the earth’s outer shell.
● Source of mineral elements required for life.
● Hydrosphere – water on or near the earth’s surface.
● Atmosphere – the gaseous component of the
● Atmospheric oxygen is produced by photosynthesis.
● Varying combinations of both biotic and abiotic factors
determine the nature of Earth’s many biomes.

● Biomes are the major types of ecological associations

that occupy broad geographic regions of land or water.

● Each biome grades into the next – without sharp

● Boundary areas are called ecoclines.
Terrestrial Biomes
● Climate is particularly
important in
determining why
particular terrestrial
biomes are found in
certain areas.
● Temperature
● Rainfall
● Solar radiation
Terrestrial Biomes
● The sun’s rays strike
higher latitudes at a
lower angle.
● Atmospheric heating
is less.
Terrestrial Biomes
● Hot, moist air rises at
equator, cools, condenses
and provides rainfall
(tropical forests).

● Warm air flows northward,

and sinks at 20-30° latitude
– dry.

● Air heats, absorbs moisture

(desert areas), then the air
flows toward the equator
The Distribution of Major Terrestrial
General Features of
Terrestrial Biomes
● Vertical
stratification is an
important feature
of terrestrial
● Canopy
● Low-tree
● Shrub understory
● Ground layer
● Forest floor (litter
Temperate Deciduous Forest
● Temperate deciduous forests receive rain year-
● Cold winters and hot, humid summers.
● Animals may migrate, hibernate, or survive on scarce
available food or stored fat through the winter.
Coniferous Forest
● Coniferous forests, or taiga, are common in the
northern hemisphere.
● Evergreens dominant
● Colder, less rain than temperate forests.
Coniferous Forest
● Mammals that
inhabit coniferous
forests include
deer, moose, elk,
snowshoe hares,
wolves, foxes,
lynxes, weasels,
● Adapted for long,
snowy winters.
Tropical Forest
● Tropical rain forests receive lots of rain and are
generally warm year-round.
● Stratified
● Diverse
Tropical Forest
● Canopy – insectivorous birds and bats fly
above the canopy.
● Fruit bats, canopy birds, and mammals live in the
canopy eating leaves & fruit.
● Middle zones are home to arboreal mammals
(monkeys, sloths), birds, bats, insects,
● Climbing animals move along the tree trunks feeding
at all levels.
● Ground level contains larger mammals
(capybara, paca, agouti, pigs) as well as a
variety of reptiles and amphibians.
Tropical Forest
● Nutrients in a tropical forest are tied up in living
● Soil is poor.

● Slash and burn agriculture involves removing

vegetation to grow crops – but the soil is so poor that
the fields must be moved often.
● Temperate grasslands receive seasonal
precipitation and have cold winters and hot
● Prairie
● Grasses and herds
of large grazing
mammals are
● Jackrabbits, prairie
dogs, and ground
squirrels are
● Predators include
coyotes, cougars,
bobcats, raptors,
badgers, and
● Savannas are tropical grasslands with seasonal
● Chaparral receives highly seasonal rainfall.
● Shrubs and small trees are common.
● Adaptations to fire.
● Tundra has a permanently frozen layer of soil
called permafrost that prevents water
● Very cold, short growing season.
● Little rain
● Tundra is often covered with bogs, marshes, or ponds.
● Grasses, sedges, and lichens may be common.
● Lemmings, caribou, musk-oxen, arctic foxes, arctic
hares, ptarmigans and other migratory birds.
● Deserts have very low precipitation – less than 30
● Variable temperatures.
● Animals often nocturnal and live in burrows.
● Reptiles and small mammals are common.