Our Biosphere is the global sum of all ecosystems. It can also be called the zone of life on Earth. An Ecozone, Ecorealm, Biogeographic Realm or simply Biorealm is the largest scale biogeographic division of the Earth's land surfaces, based on the historic and evolutionary distribution patterns of terrestrial plants and animals. Biomes are climatically and geographically defined as similar climatic conditions on the Earth, such as communities of plants, animals, and soil organisms, and are often referred to as ecosystems. A Habitat refers to the type of environment in which organisms live. Some organisms are terrestrial; some aquatic; some arboreal; some live outside or inside the body of a host (parasites). An Ecoregion (ecological region), sometimes called a Bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. An Ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving, physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water, and sunlight. Biotope is an area of uniform environmental conditions providing a living place for a specific assemblage of plants and animals. Biotope is almost synonymous with the term habitat, but while the subject of a habitat is a species or a population, the subject of a biotope is a biological community. •A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same species and live in the same geographical area. •A community is an assemblage of two or more populations of different species occupying the same geographical area. Abiotic Components of an Ecosystem Climate Light Soil Nutrients Topography Altitude Temperature Acidity Angle of slope Air, wind Orientation of slope Moisture WWF SYSTEM A team of biologists convened by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) developed an ecological land classification system that identified fourteen biomes,called major habitat types, and further divided the world's land area into 867 terrestrial ecoregions. Each terrestrial Ecoregion has a specific EcoID, fomat XXnnNN (XX is the Ecozone, nn is the Biome number, NN is the individual number). This classification is used to define the Global 200 list of ecoregions identified by the WWF as priorities for conservation. The WWF major habitat types are: 01 Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests (tropical and subtropical, humid) 02 Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests (tropical and subtropical, semi-humid) 03 Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests (tropical and subtropical, semi-humid) 04 Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests (temperate, humid) 05 Temperate coniferous forests (temperate, humid to semi-humid) 06 Boreal forests/taiga (subarctic, humid) 07 Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands (tropical and subtropical, semi-arid) 08 Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands (temperate, semi-arid) 09 Flooded grasslands and savannas (temperate to tropical, fresh or brackish water inundated) 10 Montane grasslands and shrublands (alpine or montane climate) 11 Tundra (Arctic) 12 Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub or Sclerophyll forests (temperate warm, semi-humid to semi-arid with winter rainfall) 13 Deserts and xeric shrublands (temperate to tropical, arid) 14 Mangrove (subtropical and tropical, salt water inundated) Freshwater biomes According to the World Wildlife Fund, the following are classified as freshwater biomes: •Large lakes •Large river deltas •Polar freshwaters •Montane freshwaters •Temperate coastal rivers •Temperate floodplain rivers and wetlands •Temperate upland rivers •Tropical and subtropical coastal rivers •Tropical and subtropical floodplain rivers •and wetlands •Tropical and subtropical upland rivers •Xeric freshwaters and endorheic basins •Oceanic islands Realms or Ecozones (terrestrial and freshwater, WWF) •NA Nearctic •PA Palearctic •AT Afrotropic •IM Indomalaya •AA Australasia •NT Neotropic •OC Oceania •AN Antarctic Marine biomes (H) (major habitat types), Global 200 (WWF) Biomes of the coastal & continental shelf areas (Neritic zone - List of ecoregions (WWF)): •Polar •Temperate shelves and sea •Temperate upwelling •Tropical upwelling •Tropical coral Realms or Ecozones (marine, WWF) •North Temperate Atlantic •Eastern Tropical Atlantic •Western Tropical Atlantic •South Temperate Atlantic •North Temperate IndoPacific •Central Indo-Pacific •Eastern Indo-Pacific •Western Indo-Pacific •South Temperate IndoPacific •Southern Ocean •Antarctic •Arctic •Mediterranean Other marine habitat types: •Hydrothermal vents •Cold seeps •Benthic zone •Pelagic zone (trades and westerlies) •Abyssal •Hadal (ocean trench) Major Habitats, Non Global 200 (WWF) •Littoral/Intertidal zone •Kelp forest •Pack ice Biosphere Ecozone: Palearctic ecozone Terrestrial Biome: Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests Ecoregion: Dinaric Mountains mixed forests (PA0418) Ecosystem: Orjen, vegetation belt between 1,100- 1,450 Oromediterranean zone, Nemoral zone (temperate zone) Biotope: OreoherzogioAbietetum illyricae Fuk. (Plant list) Plant: Silver fir (Abies alba) Terrestrial Biomes Tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, Alpine tundra, and Antarctic tundra. In tundra, the vegetation is composed of dwarf shrubs, sedges and grasses, mosses, and lichens. Scattered trees grow in some tundra. The ecotone (or ecological boundary region) between the tundra and the forest is known as the tree line or timberline. The tundra is located around the North Pole in the Arctic Circle. The layer of earth beneath the tundra is frozen all year long. This is called the permafrost. Industrial activity in the tundra may add to the world's environmental problems. Precipitation: Expecting deep snow, many are surprised to learn that the tundra may receive no more precipitation than a desert. The tundra receives less than 10 inches of precipitation yearly. Sunlight- The Tundra only get about 6 months worth of sunlight a year. Temperature: The tundra is an extremely cold and dry biome. The average yearly temperature is only 10°F to 20°F. Climate: The tundra is the coldest region in the world. Fierce winds blow while snow and ice cover the ground. Even the sea freezes as the temperature gets colder. Sometimes the strong winds create "white outs" when the snow blows so much. During the summers the top layer of soil thaws but the underlying piece of soil remains frozen, rainwater can't soak into the soil so the Tundra has shallow ponds and marshy areas and near the Arctic Circle the sun doesn't set during the midsummer. Animal Species: A large variety of animals live in the tundra for the whole year. They have special adaptations that allow them to survive in the winter weather. Some of these include: short legs; long hair; and a coat of thick fur. They have short tails and large, furry feet. Many animals have white fur which camouflages them against the snow. Some animals that live in the tundra are polar bears, caribou, and penguins. Plants: During the short-growing season in the summer, the tundra blooms with a variety of lowgrowing plants. For example, the only tree that grows in the tundra biome is the dwarf willow tree. Also some of the other plants that live are mosses, grasses, and shrubs. The plant growth takes place in the long days of the short summers. Land: The land in the Tundra is open with very low vegetation. It has high mountain tops which hardly have any vegetation at all. The icy conditions of the land are to severe for the growth of tall trees. None of the Tundra's vegetation is spread to the North pole nor South pole. Taiga also known as the boreal forest, is a biome characterized by coniferous forests. Taiga is the world's largest terrestrial biome. The term boreal forest is sometimes, particularly in Canada, used to refer to the more southerly part of the biome, while the term taiga is then often used to describe only the more barren areas of the northernmost part of the taiga approaching the tree line. Taiga makes up 27% of the world's forest cover; The largest areas are located in Russia and Canada. The taiga is the terrestrial biome with the lowest annual average temperatures after the tundra and permanent ice caps. However, extreme minimums in the taiga are typically lower than those of the tundra. Boreal Forests are also known as Taiga Named by the Russians). They are in-between the Tundra biome to the north and the Grassland/Deciduous Forest Biomes in the south. Boreal forests are found in the Northern Hemisphere in places such as, Canada, and Siberia in Russia. It is the largest biome in the world! Precipitation: Mostly snow falls, but there are times during the summer where there are heavy amounts of rain. Sunlight: There is sunlight in the Boreal biome, but when there is trees hide its rays. Temperatures: The temperature is a constant difference from 5 to -40°F, being the coldest. Also with temperatures of 5059°F being the warmest. Climate: Boreal Forests has long, extremely cold winters. With very mild, rainy, short summers. Animal Species: Some of the animals that live in this forest, include: Deer, Moose, Elk, Bears,Finches, Mice, Red Squirrels, Foxes, Rabbits,beavers Chick-adees and many more.Adding on, insects have a big amounts during the season, when coniditions are moderate. Most of the animals eat seends from the trees, but others such as moose and beavers eat tree bark and new shoots(grass). A few preditors are wolves bears great horned owls and Lynxes (Boreal Forest Animals) Plants: The most known plant to this wild life, is the coniferous trees, lichens, ferns and berries.Other plants are ther Fir,Spruce, and Hemlock trees(These trees have waxy needles that prevent water from evaporating, giving them a food source.) There aren't many kinds of plants because of the poor soil. Boreal forests are often damaged by a moth called spruce budworm, which can eat other plants and kill entire trees. Grasslands (also called greenswards) are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses (Poaceae) and other herbaceous (non-woody) plants (forbs). However, sedge (Cyperaceae) and rush (Juncaceae) families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica. In temperate latitudes, such as northwest Europe and the Great Plains and California in North America, native grasslands are dominated by perennial bunch grass species, whereas in warmer climates annual species form a greater component of the vegetation. Grassland biomes are large, rolling areas of grasses, flowers and herbs. Latitude, soil and local climates for the most part determine what kinds of plants grow in a particular grasslands. There are many types of grasslands around the world. Some of the grasslands are tropical and some are dry. Grasslands in North America are known as Prairies, and in South America they are known as the Pampas. Eurasia has the Steppes, and in South Africa they are called Savanna and Veldt. Savannas of one sort or another cover almost half the surface of Africa, large areas of Australia, South America, and India. Temperate grasslands are characterized as having grasses as the dominant vegetation. Grassland biomes can be found in the middle latitudes, in the interiors of continents. Precipitation: Grasslands receive about 10 to 30 inches of rain per year. If they received more rain, the grasslands would become a forest. If they received less, they would become a desert. Grasslands are often located between deserts and forests. Grassland soil tends to be deep and fertile. The roots of perennial grasses usually penetrate far into the soil. In North America, the prairies were once inhabited by huge herds of bison and pronghorns who fed on the prairie grasses. These herds are almost gone now, and most of the prairies have been converted into the richest agricultural region on earth. Crops grow well in the rich soil. • Climate in grasslands vary depending on its location. • Summers are warm and humid. • Winters are cold but not to the extreme. • The farther west and in the interior of the country, the temperatures becomes drier. • Moisture from the Pacific Ocean is blocked by the mountains. This is where the short-grass prairies are found. • Summers are hot and winters very cold. • The amount of sunlight depends on the location of the grassland. • Deciduous means falling off at maturity or tending to fall off and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe. • In a more specific sense deciduous means the dropping of a part that is no longer needed, or falling away after its purpose is finished. In plants it is the result of natural processes. Deciduous forest can be found in the Eastern part of North America and the middle of Europe. Some major deciduous forest are found in Russia, Japan, Eastern China, as well as South America in Chile and Paraguay, New Zeeland and southern Australia. Sunlight: Although the canopy is moderately dense, it does allow sunlight to reach the forest floor. This sunlight allows plants in the other layers to grow. Precipitation: The deciduous forest receives at least 50 cm of rain per year to support the growth of tress and plants. Temperature: The temperature in the deciduous forest varies through out the year, and has four seasons, summer, spring, winter, and fall. The temperature varies greatly through out each season. The winter can reach below freezing and the summers can reach up to the high 80's. A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Deserts are defined as areas with an average annual precipitation of less than 250 millimeters (10 in) per year, or as areas where more water is lost by evapotranspiration than falls as precipitation. • The desert is a place where people usually describe it as hot and sandy. • Most deserts are hot and sandy but there are a few that have snow. What really makes a desert is that it is dry. • Not many animals can survive the desert but there is life there. • There is not much precipitation, less than 25 centimeters per year, but plants and animals manage to make there homes there. Temperature: The Desert temperature can be above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the day and can be lower than 32 degrees Fahrenheit in the night. Desert climate: In the desert it can be 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 32 degrees at night because it is bare. Only some plants can survive in the desert. The Cacti may have to go a couple of months with out water maybe a year. And some other plants have long roots to reach underground water sources. Precipitation: The desert is an area that receives less than 25 centimeters a year. And in some parts it may not get any rain. Some facts about deserts: • The deserts cover approximately 1/5 of the land surface on the planet Why hot deserts are cold at night? Soon after the sun rises the temperature starts to climb. In the heart of the Sahara where the average rainfall is 0.7 (17mm) a year the nights can be cold. The Sahara's latitude is 27.2 degrees north close to the tropics, between Dec and Feb the temperature occasionally falls below freezing at night. • Dust devils and whirlwinds Sandstorms appear on the horizon as a dark wall towering to a great height. Dust devils are much smaller. They give little warning but the are harmless and shortlived. Whirlwinds are terrifying. They leap from the ground unpredictably and have the power to demolish tents, take off doors from their hinges and hurl debris that may injure people nearby. • A dust storm or sandstorm is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions. Dust storms arise when a gust front blows loose sand and dust from a dry surface. Rank Desert Area (km²) Area (mi²) 1 Antarctic Desert (Antarctica) 13,829,430 5,339,573 2 Sahara (Africa) 9,100,000+ 3,320,000+ 3 Arabian Desert (Middle East) 2,330,000 900,000 4 Gobi Desert (Asia) 1,300,000 500,000 5 Kalahari Desert (Africa) 900,000 360,000 6 Patagonian Desert (South America) 670,000 260,000 7 Great Victoria Desert (Australia) 647,000 250,000 8 Syrian Desert (Middle East) 520,000 200,000 9 Great Basin Desert (North America) 492,000 190,000 Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions setting minimum normal annual rainfall between 1750–2000 mm (6878 inches). The monsoon trough, alternately known as the intertropical convergence zone, plays a significant role in creating Earth's tropical rain forests. There are two types of rainforest biomes temperate and tropical rainforests. There are two types of rainforest biomes: temperate and tropical rainforests • Tropical rainforests are found close to the equator. • Temperate rainforests are found along coasts in the temperate zone. Precipitation and Climate Both tropical and temperate rainforests are very lush and wet. Rainfall falls regularly throughout the year. The tropical rainforest receives 80-400 inches of rainfall per year. It rains a lot in the temperate rainforest too -- about 100 inches per year. And even more moisture comes from the coastal fog that hovers among the trees. Tropical rainforests are warm and moist; while temperate rainforests are cool. • Tropical rainforests have been called the "Earth's lungs," although it is now known that rainforests contribute little net oxygen additions to the atmosphere through photosynthesis • Tropical rainforests have been called the “Jewels of the Earth", and the “ World's Largest Pharmacy", because over one quarter of natural medicines have been discovered there Jungle refers to the dense, more or less impenetrable tropical rainforest biome with an abundance of animal and plant life. The term jungle is technically a synonym to Tropical Rainforest. The word jungle originates from the Sanskrit word jangala (जंगल) which referred to uncultivated land. Temperate rainforests are coniferous or broadleaf forests that occur in the temperate zone and receive high rainfall. Tropical Temperate Temperatures Number of tree species warm many (hundreds) cool Types of leaves broadleaf Age of trees 50-100 years needles 500-1000 years Epiphytes lots of different kinds mostly including mosses and orchids and ferns bromeliads Decomposition rate rapid few (10-20) slow The emergent layer contains a small number of very large trees called emergents, which grow above the general canopy, reaching heights of 45–55 m, although on occasion a few species will grow to 70–80 m tall. They need to be able to withstand the hot temperatures and strong winds in some areas. Eagles, butterflies, bats, and certain monkeys inhabit this layer. The canopy layer contains the majority of the largest trees, typically 30–45 m tall. The densest areas of biodiversity are found in the forest canopy, a more or less continuous cover of foliage formed by adjacent treetops. The understory layer lies between the canopy and the forest floor. The understory is home to a number of birds, snakes, and lizards, as well as predators. The leaves are much larger at this level. Insect life is also abundant. Many seedlings that will grow to the canopy level are present in it. Only about 5% of the sunlight shining on the rainforest reaches the understory. The forest floor, the bottom-most layer, receives only 2% of sunlight. Only plants adapted to low light can grow in this region. Shrubland, scrubland, scrub or brush is a plant community characterized by vegetation dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, herbs, and geophytes. Shrubland may either occur naturally or be the result of human activity. Aquatic biomes A pond is a body of standing water, either natural or man-made, that is usually smaller than a lake. A wide variety of manmade bodies of water are classified as ponds, including water gardens, water features and Koi ponds, etc. The littoral zone refers to that part of a sea, lake or river that is close to the shore. In coastal environments the littoral zone extends from the high water mark, which is rarely inundated, to shoreline areas that are permanently submerged. • Kelp forests are underwater areas with a high density of kelp. They are recognized as one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on Earth. Smaller areas of anchored kelp are called kelp beds. • Kelp forests occur worldwide throughout temperate and polar coastal oceans. In 2007, kelp forests were also discovered in tropical waters near Ecuador. Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Corals are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters containing few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, and are formed by polyps that live together in groups. A strait or straits is a narrow, navigable channel of water that connects two larger navigable bodies of water. It most commonly refers to a channel of water that lies between two land masses. Any water in the sea that is not close to the bottom or near to the shore is in the pelagic zone. Landforms Mountain A mountain is a large landform that stretches above the surrounding land in a limited area usually in the form of a peak. A mountain is generally steeper than a hill. The adjective montane is used to describe mountainous areas and things associated with them. The study of mountains is called Orography. Hill A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills often have a distinct summit, although in areas with scarp/dip topography a hill may refer to a particular section of flat terrain without a massive summit. Plateu A plateau, also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau. A volcanic plateau is a plateau produced by volcanic activity. Volcano A volcano is an opening, or rupture, in a planet's surface or crust, which allows hot magma, volcanic ash and gases to escape from below the surface. Valley A valley or dale is a depression with predominant extent in one direction. A very deep river valley may be called a canyon or gorge. Plain A plain is land with relatively low relief, that is flat or gently rolling. Prairies and steppes are types of plains, and the archetype for a plain is often thought of as a grassland. Island An island or isle is any piece of subcontinental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot (also ait), or holm. A grouping of geographically or geologically related islands is called an archipelago. Water Forms Sea A sea generally refers to a large body of salt water, but the term is used in other contexts as well. Most commonly, the term refers to a large expanse of saline water connected with an ocean, and is commonly used as a synonym for ocean. It is also used sometimes to describe a large saline lake that lacks a natural outlet, such as the Caspian Sea. Ocean An ocean (from Greek Ὠκεανὸς, "okeanos" Oceanus) is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 70.9% of the Earth's surface (~3.61 x 10 8 km 2) is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas. Lake A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean, and are larger and deeper than ponds. River A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including stream, creek, brook, rivulet, tributary and rill. Falls A waterfall is a place where flowing water rapidly drops in elevation as it flows over a steep region or a cliff. Bay Bays generally have calmer waters than the surrounding sea, due to the surrounding land blocking some waves and often reducing winds. Bays also exist as an inlet in a lake or pond. A large bay may be called a gulf, a sea, a sound, or a bight. A cove is a circular or oval coastal inlet with a narrow entrance; some coves may be referred to as bays.