Monday, September 12, 2011


1. Tundra
Climate: Cold, harsh winters
Temperature Range: 0-10 degrees Celsius
Annual Precipitation: Less than 25 cm
Precipitation Type: mostly snow, but water thaws during summer
Soil: Frozen layer of topsoil, 1 meter thick, called permafrost
Flora:Short growing season (due to permafrost and dark months) yield shrubs, mosses, lichens and small vegetation. Nothing large can be sustained.
Fauna:Wolves, foxes, caribou, polar bears, wolverine, raven
Video (on trophic structure of tundra):
  • Wolves: keep caribou populations collectively healthy by removing sick and elderly. They hunt as a pack, pick an ailing caribou to hunt, and then injure it. They follow the scent and bright red trail of the blood in order to make the final kill. Once killed, each adult member of the pack eats about 20 lb of flesh before leaving the carcass for other members of the community.
  • Caribou: Prey of many predatory species. Has developed acute sense of smell to locate food under permafrost and avoid predators.
  • Raven: Scavengers which look for blood in the snow to find caribou carcasses
  • Wolverines: sometimes challenge wolves for caribou carcasses and eat off their kill
  • Foxes: Do not bother wolves or wolverines, just take what they can and leave the carcass


2. Coniferous Forest (Taiga)
Climate: Long cold winters, short wet summers (warm but not hot)
Annual Precipitation: 35-75 cm
Precipitation Type: mostly snow
Soil: Nutrient poor, thin, acidic
Flora: Coniferous evergreens such as pines, spruce, and fir
Fauna: Mountain lions, moose, wolves, black bears, birds, hares

3.Temperate Deciduous Forest
Climate: Very cold winter, hot summer. Definite seasons.
Temperature Range: -30 to 30 degrees
Annual Precipitation: 75- 125 cm
Precipitation Type: Even precipitation, varied precipitation type
Soil: Rich in nutrients (composed of decomposed leaves)
Flora: Deciduous trees (elm, beech, maple), layers of vegetation
Fauna: Foxes, opossums, deer, squirrels, bees, cardinals, moose, bears,

4. Temperate Grasslands
Temperature Range: 5-22 degrees Celsius
Annual Precipitation: 25- 75 cm
Precipitation Type: Uneven rainfall (enough to support grasses but not trees)
Soil: Enriched by glacial deposits, decaying matter. Good for farmland.
Flora: Grasses dominate with scattered trees. Humans have introduced corn and wheat crops as agricultural products farmed in this biome.
Fauna: Bison, antelopes, grasshoppers, gophers, hawks, prairie dogs

5. Chaparral (Temperal Shrubs)
Climate: Mild rainy winters, hot dry summers
Temperature Range: 10-30 degrees Celsius
Annual Precipitation: 20-60 cm
Soil: Periodic fires release nutrients and cause some seeds to germinate
Flora: Spiny shrubs, evergreen trees
Fauna: Deer, birds, rodents, lizards, snakes

6. Savanna
Climate: Warm year-round. Two dry seasons and one wet season.
Annual Precipitation: ~120 cm per year
Precipitation Type: Rain, collected in scattered watering holes
Soil: Average.
Flora: Drought and frequent fires prevent many large trees from growing, but grasses and some scattered trees are present.
Fauna: Giraffes, cheetahs, lions, large grazing mammals, gazelles, gophers, snakes, mice, zebra, antelope

  • One third of the continent of Africa is savanna
  • Large amounts of lush grass to feed on
  • During dry season, the grass dies down and grazing species must move elsewhere to find food


7. Desert
Climate: Dry for most of the year, hot during the day and cold during the night
Annual Precipitation: Less than 25 cm
Precipitation Type: Sparse flash floods cause fast but intense flooding a few times each year.
Soil: Dry, can sustain little vegetation
Flora: Sparse and widely spread vegetation, cacti
Fauna: Birds, rodents, lizards, snakes,hawks

  • Subtropic
  • Rain shadow- warm, moist air (from areas such as ocean coasts) is pulled towards mountains through orographic lifting (air mass moves higher in altitude as terrain rises). The top of mountains are much cooler due to higher altitude, and the moisture in the air condenses over the mountains and leaves the air in the form of precipitation. When the air finally travels to the other side of the mountain, it is very dry. The lack of moisture creates deserts.
  • Usually extremely dry, except for the occasional flash flood
  • Plants have adapted to the dryness of the desert by storing water inside them (cacti), conserving water (growing in the shadow of others to prevent water loss through evaporation), or tapping into underground water reservoirs
  • Animals have adapted to the scorching hot days by finding shelter from the sun
  • Mostly herbivores, small insects and mammals, lizards and scavengers- desert cannot sustain much loss of biomass through too many trophic levels


8. Rainforest
Climate: Near equator, so temperatures are relatively constant. Warm,wet, and humid, with no cold season.
Temperature: ~25 degrees Celsius
Precipitation: Over 200 cm, daily rainfall, high humidity
Precipitation Type: Lots of rain
Soil: Fertile but thin.
Flora: Incredible biodiversity, including epiphytes, carnivorous plants, a variety of trees and flowers
Fauna: Incredible biodiversity of amphibians, snakes, lizards, mammals (such as a wide array of monkeys), insects (such as leafcutter ant), hummingbirds, etc.

  • One third of Earth's species reside in rainforest habitats
  • Human deforestation causes extinction of many species and disturbs many communities


*The picture button wasn't working, but if I can get it to work later I'll post some more*


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