Definition of a Land Ecosystem

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A land, or terrestrial, ecosystem is all the living organisms and their physical environment on a particular piece of land. Terrestrial ecosystems may interact and overlap with marine (salt-water) and limnological (fresh-water) ecosystems. A number of terrestrial biomes can be used to classify smaller ecosystems.


The tundra biome is found near polar latitudes or at high elevations. Temperatures are cold throughout the year. Trees are generally absent due to permafrost.


Taiga lies at high elevations and latitudes where the growth of trees is possible. Thick forests of conifer trees are the predominant vegetation.

Temperate Forest

Temperate forests occur where there are distinct seasonal changes over the course of the year and have deciduous forests.


Rainforests occur at many latitudes but the largest rainforests occur in equatorial areas of South America, Asia, and Africa. The high rainfall of the rainforest often results in extremely poor soil due to leeching.


Grasslands exist where biotic or abiotic factors limit the presence of trees. Grasses are the dominant vegetation type though sporadic or isolated shrubs or trees may also exist.

Other Terrestrial Biomes

Additional biomes can be classified according to precipitation, temperature and vegetation such as desert, chaparral and tropical deciduous forest.

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