Understanding the importance and interaction of biomes is an important facet of a successful life-sciences program. Students need to grasp the importance of biomes in relation to ecosystems. A biome is specific type of terrain and accompanying geographic factors, while ecosystems of different types develop within any type of biome. Generally, a biome is a broad definition for environmental conditions, while ecosystems are the cycles within those conditions.
A World of Biomes
Divide the class into six groups and assign each group to one of the six recognized biomes on the planet. One group works on a presentation for rainforests and another focuses on deserts, with taiga, temperate, tundra and grasslands assigned similarly. Each group explains the types of conditions found in the biome, and how the different ecosystems work together. A fine example of how the world's biomes are arranged is presented by the Missouri Botanical Garden, a website established to teach about biomes and ecosystems.
Despite their reputation for being largely lifeless, desert biomes contain an amazing variety of life that has developed for survival in hot and arid conditions. Plants have "learned" to store water for use during dry periods, and animals have adapted to living in the cooler world of darkness. A desert biome activity might include making a list of the types of animals that live there, or the similarities of plants that thrive under harsh conditions. The Biome Homework Help website recommends a quiz based on the types of life and terrain found in desert biomes.
Life in Rainforests
Rainforests contain a majority of the land-based life on our planet. Animals and plants alike have learned to live above the forest floor to the canopy where hundreds of species of plant and animal live most of their lives. A rainforest activity could be a game where students name or identify types of life found only in rainforest biomes. ScienceClass.net suggests building miniature ecosystems that mimic the way the world biomes work.
Tundra biomes have a characteristically short growing season based on the short summers and extreme winters. Tundra is probably the harshest biome on the planet, but the array of life is staggering. Class activities include examining the types of mammals that live in the biome, and their common characteristics. One example would be the light-colored fur on animals from polar bears to rabbits and seals.
This is the largest biome on the planet, and stretches in a band around the upper portion of the northern hemisphere bordering the tundra. Recognized by heavy conifer and hardwood forests, the taiga biome experiences warm summers and cold winters. A class activity would be to build a model of a taiga biome complete with a miniature tree and animals.
The grasslands of the world are the home of nature's great herds of grazing beasts. Grasslands are found on every continent except for Antarctica, making this the most common biome. Chart the ways that grazing herds are beneficial to the grasslands, such as reducing disease and contributing fertilizer, or show a web of strands connecting an animal to the other parts of the biome.
Temperate biomes experience four distinct seasons, and most of the plants and animals have adapted traits specifically to survive those changes. Other animals such as geese and other birds, migrate to warmer climates during the winter months, an adaptation to the cold just as surely as the bear going into hibernation.
- hybridization 2 image by mdb from Fotolia.com