Earth's biomes are areas with similar climate, geography, and other conditions as well as similar plants, animals, and other living things.
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe
Biomes and Ecosystems
Biomes are large regions of the world with similar plants, animals, and other living things that are adapted to the climate and other conditions. Explore the links below to learn more about different biomes.
A biome is made of many similar ecosystems. An ecosystem is often much smaller than a biome, although the size varies.
Ecosystems are the interactions between the living things and the nonliving things in a place. In an ecosystem, the plants, animals, and other organisms rely on each other and on the physical environment – the soil, water, and nutrients, for example.
Even though they are living in the same place, each species in an ecosystem has its own role to play. This role is called a niche. The niche for one species might be to climb trees and eat their fruit, while the niche for another species might be to hunt for small rodents. For a tree, a niche might be to grow tall and make food with the Sun’s energy through the process of photosynthesis. If the niche of two species is very similar, they might compete for food or other resources.
Sometimes ecosystems get out of balance. If, for example, it rains a lot and a type of bird that thrives with extra water increases in numbers, other species in the ecosystem might be crowded out. The birds might take food or space or other resources from other species. They might eat all the food. Sometimes an ecosystem naturally gets back into balance. Other times an ecosystem will become more and more out of balance. Today, human actions are having an impact on ecosystems all over the world. Making buildings and roads, fishing and farming all have an impact on ecosystems. Pollution on land, air pollution, and water pollution is sending many ecosystems out of balance too.
Last modified October 28, 2008 by Lisa Gardiner.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
Kingdom Plantae contains almost 300,000 different species of plants. It is not the largest kingdom, but it is a very important one! In the process known as "photosynthesis", plants use the energy of the...more
In the very cold places of the world, survival isn't easy. The soil is frozen, its top surface thawing only during summer, and no trees can grow. Yet plants and animals that are adapted for the harsh...more
“Taiga” is a Russian word meaning dense evergreen forest. The taiga biome, the largest biome on land, is full of dense evergreen forests. Located just south of the tundra in the northern parts of Europe,...more
The temperate forest biome is found in regions where winters are cold and summers are warm. Regions with this climate are common in the mid-latitudes, far from both the equator and the poles. Tropical...more
Tropical rainforests are home to thousands of species of animals, plants, fungi and microbes. Scientists suspect that there are many species living in rainforests have not yet been found or described....more
Deserts are full of interesting questions. How can anything survive in a place with hardly any water? Why is it so dry to begin with? You can find at least one desert on every continent except Europe....more
Over one quarter of the Earth's surface is covered by grasslands. Grasslands are found on every continent except Antarctica, and they make up most of Africa and Asia. There are several types of grassland...more