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Madison Pearson

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Transcript of Biomes

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
The Earth's Major Biomes
Tundra Biome
The tundra biome is located between latitudes 55 and 70 degrees north and takes up about 20% of the earth surface. Almost all tundras exist in the northern hemisphere though there are places with similar conditions in the northern hemisphere. The main seasons are summer and winter; when the earth tilts towards the sun the top layers of soil melt and the tundra becomes a marsh. During the winter the marsh freezes again.
Taiga Biome
Many endangered animals in the taiga biome can be linked back to fur trading and over-hunting before restrictions were placed on certain animals. Such animals include Beavers, Wood Bison, Canadian Lynx, European Minx and the Amur Leopard.
Temperate Deciduous Forest Biome
'The deciduous forests are located in the temperate zone above the tropical forests and below the coniferous forests. Most of Europe, the eastern half of North America, parts of Japan and Asia were once covered with large deciduous forests. Most deciduous forests are found in Eastern North America somewhere around 35-48° N, and Europe and Asia around 45-60° N. There are some deciduous regions in the southern hemisphere but their plants and animals are different from those of the northern deciduous forests.' Because of the temperate location and the tilt of the earth, there are 4 distinct seasons in the deciduous forest biome.

Grassland Biome
A grassland is a region where the average annual precipitation is only great enough to support grass, and some small trees. Grassland biomes can be found in the middle latitudes, in the interiors on continents. The prairies of North America, the steppes of Asian, and veldts and savannas of Africa, and the pampas of South America are all grasslands. 'Grassland is the most extensive terrestrial biome, occupying 31 - 43% of the earths surface.'
Because grasslands are spread throughout the world, different grasslands have different habitatis and types of seasons. In temperate zones, there are all four seasons, however in more tropical zones there is usually just summer and winter.

Desert Biome
Dominant Plant Life
The bare ground is permanently frozen and can only support low growing plants like moss and lichen.
Two major problems that human impact is having, directly and indirectly, on the taiga biome are deforestation and global warming.
Dominant animal life for the taiga biome is fur bearing mammals. Fur bearing animals thrive here, because of the long, snowy winters. Animals that hibernate during the winter also thrive. Examples of the animals include the River Otter, Snowshoe Rabbit, Beaver, Red Fox, and the Grey Wolf.
Abiotic Factors
Dominant Animal Life
Animals that live in this climate have the ability to adapt to the cold temperatures, or the ability to migrate out of the area during the cold seasons.. This includes the arctic fox, caribou, ermine, grizzly bear, musk ox, ploar bear, and snowy owl.
Endangered Animals
Endangered animals found in the tundra include the arctic fox, the muck ox, the caribou and the polar bear.
There are less than 25 cm of precipitation a year. The winters are typically 6-9 months long and cold; the summers are short ad relatively cool. Temperatures can drop to -40 degrees Celsius and the ground doesn't completely thaw during the summer. The typical temperature range is from -40 to +15 degrees Celsius.
Human History and Impact
The dominant plant life for the taiga biome is coniferous trees such as various type of fir, spruce, birch and poplar trees. These trees create a canopy (top layer) so thick that little light gets through - this means that the trees prevent snow from melting. Because of this, most photosynthesis occurs in the upper layers of the canopy.
The taiga biome is the largest biome on earth, spanning across Europe, Asia, and North America. It is located just below the tundra biome, near the top of the world. Because of its northern location and the earths tilt, the winters are cold with only snowfall, and the summers are warm and humid, with rainfall.
Humans have lived in the area for a long time, perhaps most notably in Canada's north. To survive the climate, they wear many layers of protective clothing. They also invented sunglasses to shield their eyes from the sun bouncing off of the snow and invented snowshoes to walk more easily though the snow.
Industry plays a large part in human impact on the tundra biome. Because of the many resources found in tundra regions drilling, over development and pollution are major issues for the tundra. Global warming is another human impact on the tundra; the climate is gradually changing because of global warmng - this is changing the habitat and endangering the indigenous animals.
The average yearly precipitation for the taiga biome is between 35 and 100 cm per year, most of which falls as snow during the winter months. During the summer the ground thaws completely, and winter is approximately 6 months of the year. The temperature range can be anywhere from -54 to -1 degrees celcius during the winter, and anywhere from -7 to +21 degrees celcius during the summer. During the winter and spring, snow often melts slowly because of the dense tree canopy, which blocks out sunlight for the lower levels of the forest.
Acid rain is a byproduct of pollution contributed worldwide by humans, and harms the taiga region because of its impact on trees. Acid rain usually does not harm trees directly; instead it weakens trees by damaging their leaves, stripping the soil of nutrients and slowly releasing toxins into the soil. Once trees are weak they are more succeptable to disease, infestation, etc.
Deforestation directly impacts the taiga biome because it rids the biome of its most defining feature - deforestation rids the boreal forest biome of its boreal forest. Deforestation is not good for the enviroment, and it is also not good for humans inhabiting the planet. Trees clean the air, taking in carbon dioxide and giving out oxygen. Without trees, not only is the tiaga worse off - so is the entire planet, animals and humans alike.
Scientists suggest that at this rate, global warming is happening 15 - 20 times faster than the historical average. This causes shifts in the climate worldwide, which affects the probability odds of survival for plants. Scientists believe that the taiga biome will shift several hundred kilometres towards the poles, which will reduce the plant life in the taiga region by 50 - 90%.
Humans have lived and thrived in this region for many years. The climate is not as extreme as climates like the tundra, so not as many adaptions have been made. Like the tundra, however, humans have adapted with items such as snowshoes, sunglasses, and wearing heavy clothes during the winter months to survive the cold.
Dominant Plant Life
Dominant Animal Life
Endangered Species
Abiotic Factors
Human History and Impact
Dominant Plant Life
Dominant plant life in this region is mainly deciduous trees, such as the American Beech, White Birch or the White Oak. There is also plants such as Carpet Moss, Lady Fern, and Guelder Rose, which grow under the canopy that an abundance of deciduous trees form.
Dominant Animal Life
The temperate deciduous forest supports a large variety of life. During the summer months many different species of birds, insects and other animals small and large can be found; during the winter animals either hibernate, migrate, or find other ways to endure the winter. Animals that can be found in temperate deciduous forests include Tawny Owls, Raccoons, Opossums, Salamanders, Black Bears, Bobwhite Quails, Whitetail Deer, Cottontail Rabbit, and Chipmunk.
Endangered Animals
Endangered species in the temperate deciduous forest biome include the Blue-Spotted Salamander, Eastern Hog-Nosed Snake, Long-Eared Owl, and the Wood Turtle.
Abiotic Factors
The temperate deciduous forest biome has 4 distinct seasons. Most deciduous forests have mild summers with an average of about 20 degrees Celsius, and in the winter the average temperature is just below freezing. Precipitation ranges from about 75 to 150 cm and is evenly distributed throughout the year.
'Temperate forests are very important to people as they provide enjoyment as well as many resources including food, timber, and oxygen for us to breathe. However, we are also the cause of some major threats to this biome, one of which is acid rain. Acid rain caused by industrial and vehicle emissions damages the leaves of trees, and causes them to produce smaller and fewer seeds. It also reduces the trees' resistance to disease, pests, and frost. Clear cutting of forests is also a threat to this biome. Trees are cut for timber and land cleared for agriculture. Another problem associated with deciduous forests is the introduction of non-native plant and animal species because it upsets the balance of the forest ecosystem. Non-natives may compete for food and habitat space, possibly threatening the native species.'

Human History and Impact
Dominant Plant Life
Though the soil is rich and fertile, a lack of precipitation prevents forests from growing in abundance. Typically, 50% of the plants in any grassland will be grasses. The other 50% is made up of wildflowers such as coneflowers lupines, and milkweed.
Dominant Animal Life
Species such as the Red Fox, Coyote, Meadow Jumping Mouse, and American Kestral can be found in the grassland biome.
Endangered Species
Animals such as Prairie Dogs, the Black Footed ferret, the Burrowing owl, the American Burying Beetle and the Whooping Crane are endangered species indigenous to the Grassland biome.
Abiotic Factors
'Many years ago, the immense grasslands of America’s Great Plains and Great Basin were homes to a multitude of Indian clans and wildlife. There were 20 million buffalos roaming freely across the prairies which the Indians relied upon for meat and clothes. The passage of the Homestead Act of 1862, welcomed 6 million colonizers and thus began one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of mankind. Human effects on grasslands have brought nothing but misery to man, flora and fauna that once lived in these areas.'
'Buffalos were hunted and slaughtered for food, for their hide for clothing, bones for tools or just for the fun of hunting a big mammal. In the year 1900, only 600 buffalos were roaming the prairies.
The vast land was cultivated to plant corn and wheat. The settlers did not allow the soil to rest by continued planting and replanting, so the soil became infertile.
Grasslands were cut down to make way for houses and fields. There was no more food available for wildlife. Both livestock and buffalos competed for their food.
The problem of overgrazing caused soil erosion. Sandstorms brought damage to life and property.
Humans, by their carelessness, accidentally started fires which spread towards these vast areas.
Many animals have been killed for the value of their body parts: the ivory tusks of elephants demanded a high price, the furs of lions were expensive and the meat of the bison was palatable.'
Human Impact and History
Average yearly precipitation in the grassland biome is between 25 and 75 cm. This includes a prolonged dry season, during which little or no rain falls. Temperatures in temperate grasslands vary according to season; in the winter, temperatures can plummet to below 0 degrees (F), and in the summer they can reach above 90 degrees (F).
'Deserts cover about one fifth of the Earth's surface and occur where rainfall is less than 50 cm/year. Although most deserts, such as the Sahara of North Africa and the deserts of the southwestern U.S., Mexico, and Australia, occur at low latitudes, another kind of desert, cold deserts, occur in the basin and range area of Utah and Nevada and in parts of western Asia. Most deserts have a considerable amount of specialized vegetation, as well as specialized vertebrate and invertebrate animals. Soils often have abundant nutrients because they need only water to become very productive and have little or no organic matter. Disturbances are common in the form of occasional fires or cold weather, and sudden, infrequent, but intense rains that cause flooding.'
Beacuse of their location and the tilt of the earth, it is generally warm throughout the year with a very hot summer.

Dominant Plant Life
Because the desert biome is the driest biome on earth, it supports limited plant life. Plant life that it does support includes species that are able to survive long periods of time with minimal access to water. This includes many species of cactus, the Brittle Bush, the Chainfruit Cholla, the Desert Ironwood and the Triangle-leaf Bursage.
Dominant Animal Life
'There are relatively few large mammals in deserts because most are not capable of storing sufficient water and withstanding the heat. Deserts often provide little shelter from the sun for large animals. The dominant animals of warm deserts are nonmammalian vertebrates, such as reptiles. Mammals are usually small, like the kangaroo mice of North American deserts.'
Such animals include Armadillo Lizards, Gila Monsters, Bobcats, Rattlesnakes, Vultures, Desert Tortoises and Coyotes.
Endangered Animals
Endangered animals in the desert biome include the Fennec Fox, the Pronghorn and the Caracal.
Abiotic Factors
The desert is the driest terrestrial biome, with less than 25 cm of precipitation anually; the infrequent rains tend to be heavy but brief and the rate of evaporation exceeds the rate of precipitation. Average annual temperatures range from 20-25 degrees Celsius, and the temperatures can range from -20 to +40 degrees Celsius.
Human History and Impact
'Humans have lived in deserts for eons. In the southwestern U.S. there is archaeological evidence dating from the 900s AD. They hunted, farmed and lived in the same areas, traveling from place to place seasonally without too much effect on the ecosystem. Near Tucson, Arizona, there are miles of canals they built to divert water from the Santa Cruz to farm. Nearby mountains are terraced, which added to the months available to grow food.'
Because the desert biome is generally a harsh and remote environment, human activity largely consists of drilling for oil in select parts of the desert. So long as there is no oil spills, there is a very small negative impact directly on the desert, if there is one at all.
Tropical Rainforest Biome
'The tropical rain forest is a forest of tall trees in a region of year-round warmth. An average of 50 to 260 inches (125 to 660 cm.) of rain falls yearly.Rainforests now cover less than 6% of Earth's land surface. Scientists estimate that more than half of all the world's plant and animal species live in tropical rain forests. Tropical rainforests produce 40% of Earth's oxygen.each of the three largest rainforests--the American, the African, and the Asian--has a different group of animal and plant species. Each rain forest has many species of monkeys, all of which differ from the species of the other two rain forests. In addition, different areas of the same rain forest may have different species. Many kinds of trees that grow in the mountains of the Amazon rain forest do not grow in the lowlands of that same forest'

Because tropical rainforests sit in the tropical zone, they have a very steady, warm temperature throughout the year.

Dominant Plant Life
'A tropical rain forest has more kinds of trees than any other area in the world. Scientists have counted about 100 to 300 species in one 2 1/2-acre (1-hectare) area in South America. Seventy percent of the plants in the rainforest are trees.
About 1/4 of all the medicines we use come from rainforest plants. Curare comes from a tropical vine, and is used as an anesthetic and to relax muscles during surgery. Quinine, from the cinchona tree, is used to treat malaria. A person with lymphocytic leukemia has a 99% chance that the disease will go into remission because of the rosy periwinkle. More than 1,400 varieties of tropical plants are thought to be potential cures for cancer.'

Dominant Animal Life
The rainforest biome also supports great diversity in animal life. Countless species of insects inhabit this biome; as do many species such as bengal tigers, chimpanzees, mustangs, dawn bats, king cobras, vampire bats, orangutans, and countless other species.
Endangered Animals
Some species of animal indigenous to the rainforest biome that are endangered are Bengal tigers, chimpanzees, poison dart frogs, the golden lion tamarin and the harpy eagle.
Abiotic Factors
The tropical rainforest biome has very high precipitation levels and very high temperatures throughout the year. Rain falls nearly every day, with an average of 300 mm monthly. Temperatures vary little from month to month, with an average monthly temperature of 25 degrees celcius or more.
Human History and Impact
The biggest impact on the amazon rainforest is deforestation. Clear cutting the rainforest is destroying an ecosystem for countless species of animals, plants and insects; it is also lowering air quality.
Humans have lived in the rainforest for centuries - the warm climate makes it abundant in food and an overall very easy biome to live in. Adjustments have to be made in certain areas, because there is flooding. Adjustments include building a house without a basement or, in some extreme cases, building a house on stlits.
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