A biome is a major ecosystem spread over a wide area and typified by the flora and fauna that thrive in it. The soil of the region along with the area’s seasonal weather patterns determines the assortment of life that can flourish in the ecosystem. Major biomes of the Earth include the arctic regions at both poles, tundra, taiga (also known as coniferous boreal forests), temperate deciduous forests, prairies and grassland regions, tropical savannas, Mediterranean scrub forests, tropical rainforests and deserts.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
The arctic regions of the world have the least biodiversity because plants don’t survive in the extreme cold and ice that cover these regions year-round. However, life does exist in the arctic regions, mostly affiliated with the seas that surround them. Next to last, the tundra regions, most notably in Siberia, also don’t support as much life as other regions do because of the ground’s consistently frozen state. The tundra – known as a treeless plain – welcomes reindeer and caribou, musk ox, wolverines, arctic foxes, hares, the snowy owl, ptarmigan and lemmings as native inhabitants along with vast clouds of mosquitoes that thrive in the area’s marshy waters in summer.
Because little to nothing grows in ground that is frozen year-round except for some forms of microscopic life, the arctic biome has the least amount of diversity among all the major ecosystems of the Earth. Covered in ice, most of the region experiences deeply cold temperatures. Most of the photosynthetic organisms live in the sea, which captures most of the sun’s energy. In the southern regions, you’ll find penguins, and in both the south and north, you’ll also find seals, walruses and a variety of whales. Polar bears only live in the northern arctic regions of the world.
The Vast Tundra
Large areas of the tundra are changing due to climate warming as the permafrost begins to melt. Located in the Northern Hemisphere, south of the northern arctic region, this permafrost region where there exists a permanently frozen layer of soil prevents the growth of forests because it doesn’t allow for deep root systems in the frozen ground. Lichens represent most of the photosynthetic food sources in the region, which is characterized by high winds, cold temperatures, long light-filled days in the summer and short days in the winter.
Factors That Affect Ecosystems
The factors that affect a region’s ecosystem include its location on the globe, the amount of sun, wind and rain it receives, and the average temperatures it undergoes throughout the seasons. Other factors include the ocean currents near a region because they plan a role in the weather patterns that influence the assortment of life that can flourish within the area. The nutrients in the soil and the availability of fresh water drive the diversity of life found in the biomes of the world.
About the Author
As a journalist and editor for several years, Laurie Brenner has covered many topics in her writings, but science is one of her first loves. Her stint as Manager of the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in California's gold country served to deepen her interest in science which she now fulfills by writing for online science websites. Brenner is also a published sci-fi author. She graduated from San Diego's Coleman College in 1972.