Biomes- Chaparral/Sclerophyll Forest

Biomes- Chaparral/Sclerophyll Forest
Chaparral, or Sclerophyll, forest biomes occur in Europe, Africa, Asia Minor, North
America, and South America. Chaparrals exist between 30° and 40° North and South
latitude on the west coasts of continents. The favorable climatic conditions, which
produce this biome, include shore areas with nearby cold ocean currents. Mediterranean
Chaparral biome is localized in the coastal areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea
including parts of Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor.
This subtropical Mediterranean biome, composed of shrub lands and woodlands is called
the maquis in Europe. Chaparral is the California name for this biome. Cactus and other
water storing plants do well in this environment. The cacti often form dense thickets.
Most of the plant growth is leafy and relatively short, less than eight feet tall. It is
important for plants to be drought resistant; to survive the short wet winters and long dry
summers. The geography of this region begins at the seashore and extends through rolling
farmlands, with grazing and cultivation, into the mountains. The climate in this area is
unique with the wet season occurring in winter. Many plants that do well in other
European areas are unable to thrive in this Mediterranean biome due to the summer
drought, with annual rainfall of only 15-40 inches.
The Mediterranean biome houses many forms of wildlife such as wild goats, sheep,
cattle, mouflon, and horses. The land supports lynx, wild boar, rabbits, vultures and three
types of eagles. Many small mammals, reptiles and insects inhabit this region. Local
people graze goats, sheep, cattle, donkeys, and horses on this rugged land. This area is
also known for the breeding of the famous bullfighting bulls.
Animals have adapted to this sparse and rough terrain by becoming agile climbers,
foraging over larger areas, and varying their diet to include the often scrubby brush lands.
Plants have adapted by storing water through thick bark or waxy coverings, and by
growing thorns to prevent animals from eating them. Adaptations also include
regeneration after fire.
People have adapted by grazing herds over large areas, even tying them to the roadsides
to make the most of the roadside vegetation. Herding them from area to area to maintains
adequate feeding grounds for their herds. People profit by growing olives, oranges,
culinary herbs and harvesting cork.
The Mediterranean chaparral differs from similar areas in Australia and areas adjacent to
the Caspian Sea. Specialized plants and animals have developed in these localities as
well. For example, the subtropical climate of Australia supports eucalyptus and the koala
that feed on it.
Humans, especially through the use of fire and livestock grazing, have long impacted
Mediterranean regions. We know the Mediterranean was formerly forested with live
oaks, pines, cedars, wild carob and wild olive. The shrub lands are more extensive today
than before aboriginal burning and Spanish livestock grazing. Today the Spanish
Mediterranean area supports extensive olive groves, cork forests, cattle farming and the
production of sherry.
What you need to know about...
Chaparral/Sclerophyll Forests:
Where can this biome be found on the Earth?
Types of plants:
Types of animals:
How do the plants and animals adapt to their environment:
What threatens this biome?