What is a biome? A biome is a community of living organisms of a single major ecological region. A biome is characterized by its climate, soil, plants, and animals. Scientists can't agree on how many biomes there are, but for our sake we will use the following biomes.
  • Tundra
  • Desert
  • Grassland
  • Tropical Rain Forest
  • Deciduous Forest
  • Taiga

Tundras can be found in high northern latitudes, in other words, near the north pole. The climate is very cold and harsh with long winters and short, cool summers. Precipitation here averages 4-10 inches per year. This climate means that its soil is nutrient-poor and has a layer of permafrost a few inches thick all year round. As a result, most of the plants there are less than a foot tall.

Deserts are often found in midlatitudes. The climate is generally very hot during the day and cool at night with precipitation amounting to less than 10 inches per year. The soil is poor in animal and plant decay products but often rich in minerals. The main plant life include cacti, yuccas, and shrubs.

Grasslands can be found in the interior of the continents at midlatitudes. The climate is cool in winter and hot in the summer with 10-30 inches of precipitation per year. Grasslands are known for their rich topsoil. The main plant life are grasses with a few trees located near bodies of water.

Tropical rain forests are found near the equator. The climate is hot all year round with 80-180 inches of rainfall per year. The soil is nutrient-poor but has the greatest diversity of plants of any biome.

Deciduous forests are found in midlatitudes. The climate is relatively mild with warm summers and cold winters. It has an annual precipitation 30-50 inches. The soil consists of a rich topsoil over clay and has many types of hardwood trees and a wide variety of leafy plants.

Taigas, or coniferous forests, can be found in mid- to high latitudes. They are characterized by very cold winters and cool summers with an annual precipitation of 12-33 inches per year. The soil is acidic and mineral-poor, but cone-bearing trees like pine trees thrive there.

Go to Regions--Biome Matching to practice identifying the six different types of biomes based on their characteristics.

activity.jpgGo to NCES Kids Create-A-Graph to make a graph showing how much precipitation each biome receives annually. Type your name where it says source. Your graph needs to have an appropriate title, labels on the x-axis and the y-axis, and the correct data for all six biomes. Make sure you preview it before posting it on your wiki.

Use your graph and the information above to help you think about the following questions. How are tundras and deserts alike? Different? How does the amount of rain affect the diversity (kinds and number) of the plants in each biome?