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Regions of our planet Biomes distinguished by their climate and vegetation

Types of Biomes: Aquatic Desert Forests Grasslands Tundra

Biomes are the various regions of our planet which can be distinguished by their climate, fauna and flora.

Types of Biomes

Polar Ice Cap


Always covered with snow and ice; bitterly cold year round with little or no precipitation.


The tundra biome encircles the North Pole. Below a thin layer of tundra soil is its permafrost, a permanently frozen layer of ground.

During the brief summers, the top section of the soil may thaw just long enough to allow plants and microorganisms to grow and reproduce. Mosses and lichens are common vegetation.

Tundra animals

Clockwise from above: baby harp seal, penguins of Antarctica, musk oxen

highland climate
19,800 ft

Mountain areas where the air temperature cools as altitude increases.


Snow cap
16,500 ft


13,200 ft


9,900 ft


6,600 ft

Cold Zone


3,300 ft

Temperate Zone


1,000 ft


Sea Level

Hot Zone



Alpine tundra
The alpine tundra, which is a biome that exists at the tops of high mountains, above the tree line. The growing season is about 180 days, and nighttime temperatures are usually below freezing.

Rocky Mountain high

Mountain animals
The Bighorn sheep (right and below) is the Nevada state animal.

The yellow-pine chipmunk and the torrent salamander are unique to the Olympia Range on the west coast.

Represent the largest and most diverse Trees take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen Boreal, Taiga, and Temperate Deciduous

A biome is characterized by its coniferous forests. In Canada, the term boreal forest is used to refer to the southern part of this biome; the term taiga is used to describe the more barren northern areas south of the Arctic tree-line.

boreal forest winter

Orographic effect - rain shadow

This shows why one side of a mountain range may be a rainforest while the other is a desert.

Marine West Coast

An oceanic climate (also called marine west coast climate and maritime climate) is the climate typically found along the west coasts at the middle latitudes of all the world's continents, and in southeastern Australia; similar climates are also found at high elevations within the tropics.

The mighty Columbia River drains the temperate rain forest of the western United States.

Rain Shadow

Because rain-bearing storms typically come from the west, east of the Sierran crest the climate is drier. This is effect is known as a "rain shadow" and is reflected in the steppe biomes that develop here.

Canadian Rocky Mountains

Alpine tundra
The alpine tundra is a biome that exists at the tops of high mountains, above the tree line. The growing season is about 180 days, and nighttime temperatures are usually below freezing.

Rocky Mountain high

mountain animals

The Bighorn sheep (right and below) is the Nevada state animal

(left) The yellow-pine chipmunk and the torrent salamander are unique to the Olympia Mountain Range on the west coast.

Temperate Deciduous Forest

Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests are a temperate and humid biome. Typically, they occur in warm and rainy climates, sometime with a distinct dry season.

Deciduous trees lose their leaves every fall, but before they do, early frosts produce magnificent colorbursts.

Vast deciduous forest once covered nearly the entire eastern seaboard of North America. This view is from the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Deciduous forest animals

Whitetailed deer Bald eagle



savanna tall; prairie medium and tall; steppe - short

Grass is dominant Prairie-mostly grass, few trees Steppe-dry Savanna-hot and dry


Much of the Great Plains principally supports medium grasses, with few trees, and a generally temperate or moderate climate.

Herds of bison once covered the Great Plains.

Flood Plain

formed by sediment dropped by a river when it floods

Steppe grassland

Steppe is defined as a plain without trees

Animals/plants adapt arid, semi-arid, coastal, and cold deserts


Sand dunes


This image shows worlds deserts in yellow. Notice there are none in Europe. Windows Original


The Sonoran Desert is an arid region covering 120,000 sq. mi. in Arizona, California, most of Baja California and the western half of the state of Sonora, Mexico.

Desert animals
Clockwise from right:

Western Pipistrelle, prairie rattlesnake, collared lizard

Savanna Savanna

Grassland dotted with trees; occurs in several types of biomes. In savannas, grasses form the predominant vegetation type, usually mixed with herbs and shrubs, with trees scattered individually or in small clumps.


Africas Serengeti

Tropical rainforests

Green areas locate the worlds most lush rain forests.

rain forest

Tropical rain forests are mainly the product of climatic interactions, particularly temperature and rainfall. In general, tropical rain forests occur where a mean monthly temperature of between 20 and 28 degrees C is combined with an annual rainfall of between 1.5 and 10 metres, evenly distributed throughout the year.

Tropical rain forest

Bananas visible in the foreground of this picture are planted in the tropical wet-dry forest near San Blas, Mexico in the state of Nayarit. The tall trees of the original forest along with their heavy burden of vines can be seen in the background on these tall trees.

Tropical Rain Forest animals

While covering less than 6 percent of Earth's surface, rain forests are home to more than 50 percent of the world's plant and animal species.
Tree Frog


Boa Constrictor



Wetlands are lands where saturation with water is the dominant factor determining the nature of soil development and the types of plant and animal communities living in the soil and on its surface.

Swamp forest
poorly drained riverine forested communities which are semipermanently flooded

Estuary -

The part of the wide lower course of a river where its freshwater current is met by the brackish tides

Salt Marsh Hummocks, South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Oregon
Photograph by Mark Eberle, August 2000

Estuaries and coastal waters are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth, providing ecological, economic, cultural, and aesthetic benefits and services.

Salt marsh -

a type of wetland subject to occasional or regular flooding by tides

Wetlands animals

Clockwise from left: Pelican, Blue Heron, Alligator


Ocean -

one of the great bodies of water that covers 70% of the earths surface
The Sargasso Sea in the western Atlantic Ocean seaweed growing in it and floating on the surface. The water is very blue, warm, salty and clear with slowmoving currents but surrounded by much faster currents like the Gulf Stream.

Aris Multimedia Entertainment, Inc. 1994

Water covers about three quarters of our planet. From oceans to rivulets, aquatic biomes are host to a wide variety of life-forms, and minerals, from the most common algae to the most mysterious deepsea creature.