The Differences Between Biomes & Ecosystems

By Don Rainwater; Updated April 24, 2017
A biome is a large area of the earth that contains an ecosystem.

There is a difference between biomes and ecosystems. A biome is a large region of the world that has similar plants, animals and other organisms that are adapted to the terrain and weather of that region. An ecosystem is the interaction of plants and animals with nonliving things and each other. Each organism has a role to play within the ecosystem.

World Biomes

World biomes consist of ocean biomes, tundra biomes, rain forest biomes, Arctic tundra biomes, temperate forest biomes, desert biomes and grassland biomes. Biomes can border each other and are usually determined by geological terrain and weather. Species that live in these border areas can cross between two biomes and can have a dual role to play in each biome. Several ecosystems, which are smaller than biomes, can exist within a biome and many species can exist within different ecosystems. Biomes occur naturally but artificial biomes can be created by humans.


Within ecosystems, habitats exist that vary in size. Habitats are the areas populations live in. A population is a group of organisms that live in the same place at the same time. Different populations interact, and when they interact they are considered a community. Ecosystems are defined when communities interact with their nonliving environment. The habitat provides food, water and shelter for the organisms that live within it and when those supplies become diminished, the organisms will move to another habitat. Two populations of organisms cannot live in the same place at the same time, so competition and predation exists to eliminate the weaker population.

Biome and Ecosystem Destruction

When there is a depletion of resources or climate change, biomes and the ecosystems that exist in it can be damaged or completely destroyed. The depletion in one biome can affect another biome. For example, in the forest biome deforestation not only destroys the ecosystem and habitats within the forest biome, but the lack of trees can affect neighboring biomes. Trees redirect and shield wind and weather. Without trees erosion takes place and weather changes occur. Organisms in ecosystems loose resources and either find different habitats or increase competition for the remaining resources. If they can exist in another biome, organisms will invade the new biome creating new ecosystems or destroying existing ones.

Organisms Sharing Two Biomes or Ecosystems

Sometimes organisms share two or more biomes or ecosystems. For example, when the desert biome meets the ocean biome, predators from the desert, like foxes or coyotes, will sometimes prey on fish or other sea life in the ocean biome. Though the mammals do not live within the ocean biome, they reduce the population of that biome, which could affect the relationships between the organisms that live in the ocean biome. A sharp increase in land mammals that prey in the ocean biomes could destroy the balance and in the end destroy that population. The resource would be depleted and the land mammals would move to another habitat where they could survive.

About the Author

Don Rainwater has been a professional writer since 2005. Rainwater has published books including "The Jack Russell Terrier: Canine Companion or Demon Dog" and "How To Manage A Behavior Classroom." He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Northern Colorado, a Master of Arts degree in special education and a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Phoenix.