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The world is divided into multiple biomes. These are distinctive areas of land with similar conditions including the weather patterns, average temperature, and biotic life. In the AP Environmental Science Course, you will need to know eleven major biomes.


Tropical Rainforest
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The tropical rainforest is considered to be the most diverse part of our world and many still believe we have not discovered all of the species here. The key characteristics of the rainforest include: 

  • Located near the equator. 
  • Have low quality soil nutrients. 
  • Tremendous amounts of precipitation for one half of the year. 
  • Dry for the other half of the year. 

Temperate Forest 🌳
The temperate forest is found in the eastern part of North America, Japan, Northeastern Asia, and West and Central Europe. The key characteristics of the temperate forest are as follows:

  • Contain tall deciduous trees (shed leaves). 
  • Have a distinct summer, winter, fall, and spring. 
  • Many trees are cut down which leaves only a part of the forests. 

Taiga ❄️
The taiga represents the largest terrestrial biome on the world and is found in cold climates such as those in North America and Northern Eurasia. The major facets of this biome are:

  • Short, moist, warm summers. 
  • Long, dry, and cold winters. 
  • Has an issue with deforestation as well. 

Savannas 🌾
The savannas make up the largest part of Africa, and are also found in Australia, South America, and the Indian Subcontinent. The distinctive features of this biome include:

  • Scattered individual trees with mostly grasslands. 
  • Warm, hot climates with 20-50 inches of rainfall. 
  • Has eight months of rainfall and the remaining months contain droughts. 

Temperate Shrub Lands 🌲
Found on the coast of Southern California as well as the Mediterranean region. They are characterized by: 

  • Areas of Chaparral miniature woodlands. 
  • Has dense areas filled with shrubs. 

Temperate Grasslands 🌱
The temperate grasslands occur in Africa, Hungary, Argentina, the steppes of Eurasia, and the plains of central North America. The key features of the grasslands are:

  • Have many trees and grass areas. 
  • Lack large shrubs. 
  • Various temperatures between summer and winter. 
  • Limited rainfall. 

Deserts 🏜
Deserts (not to be confused with desserts) make up one fifth of the Earth's surface. The major characteristics which they possess are:

  • Less than 50 cm of rainfall each year. 
  • Have specialized animals and vegetables. 
  • Located in low latitudes. 
  • Lack enough water to make the soil nutrient. 
  • Has occasional fires and cold weather at night. 
  • Unpredictable rain storms. 

Tundra 🗻
The tundra is found in both the Arctic and Antartica (the southern and northern most points of the earth). The factors most associated with the tundra are:

  • They have treeless plains with extremely cold weather. 
  • Permanently frozen grounds (permafrost). 
  • Low biotic diversity. 
  • Limited vegetation structure and limited growing period. 

Wetlands 🏝
The wetlands include marshes, swamps, and the bogs. They are distinctively identified by: 

  • Areas of standing water. 
  • Being wet all-year long. 
  • Supporting aquatic plants. 
  • Being the most productive ecosystem. 
  • High species diversity. 

Fresh water 💧
Fresh water makes up lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and estuaries. They are said to be very crucial to man and are recognized by their:

  • Low salt concentration (less than 1 percent). 
  • Varying climate that depends on their location. 

Oceans 🌊
Oceans are considered the largest ecosystem, since they make up most of the surface area of our earth. The oceans are defined by their key facets of:

  • The separated zones. 
  1. Intertidal
  2. Pelagic
  3. Abyssal
  4. Benthic
  • Great diversity of animals. 

With these 12 biomes, we can characterize the many areas of the world. It is important to remember the basic characteristics of each biome so it makes it easier to identify them during the exam. 

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