Life on Earth's land

Life on the Earth's surface is widely distributed and proliferates in many climatic conditions; it lives in the dense, warm jungles of Africa, the flat, balmy plains of Argentina, and the cold, mountainous regions of northwestern Canada. Each of these places has its own distinct variations of climate, terrain and soils. It is these major factors that dictate what kinds of plants grow, in what quantites, and for how long out of the year. Since plants are so important in the food chain for all higher life forms, it is not surprising to learn that the types and amounts of fauna present in a particular place are largely determined by the distribution, variety, characteristics and health of the resident flora. Since plants are such an easily identifiable feature on any landscape, biogeographers categorize regions of the land surface of the Earth into general regions defined by the plant families which are most common. These biomes are grouped into forests, grasslands, shrublands, tundras, savannas, and deserts. Scientists study biomes to better understand their biodiversity and the impact of environmental changes on their stability, as well as the role (or niche) an organism has in its community.


Credit: NASA/GSFC

For more info: http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/~dylan/mtpe/biosphere/topics/bio/biomes.html