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The World’s Biomes

As part of my university studies in the field of biogeography, I learned a lot about the type, characteristics and distribution patterns of things around the world. From the random evolutionary processes that created the planet we all inhabit to the slow geological processes occurring around us on a daily basis.

What is a Biome?

Biomes are how we humans classify the distinctive environments that are found on our planet. They are defined by both the type of vegetation and organisms living in these areas and there. The six major types of biomes that are agreed to by the international community and they are:

  • Freshwater
  • Marine
  • Desert
  • Forest
  • Grassland
  • Tundra
  • and I would suggest a seventh as well that is often overlooked, Polar.

Caveats about Biomes

There are three important caveats about biomes that you must be aware of:

They are not static

Just because a biome RIGHT NOW is desert, it doesn’t mean that it cannot become a tundra or even a grassland in the future. In fact, the reason why the Middle East is so much oil is because of the fact that there where once vast tropical forests for millions upon millions of years in what is now desert. Oil is essentially decomposed plant material or put differently, biomass accumulations. Each time you fill up your vehicle, what you are really doing is filling up your gas tank with a soup of dead organisms, animals, plants and their related wastes.

They don’t have boundaries

Although all our life would be easier if there where set boundaries, nature plays by it’s own rules. As we see with a warming climate, the desert environments around the world are actually expanding beyond their “human centered” boundaries. From the drying up Eastern Australia, expansion of Northern Tundra near the Arctic to the Southern expansion of the great Sahara into once thriving rain forests and even the man made conversion of Easter Island from a tropical forest to a grassland… change is all around us if we just open our eyes.

It isn’t always our fault

My “our”, I mean human. Although global warming can be blamed squarely on human activity, biomes and their associated worldwide planetary changes aren’t always because of us. The once mighty forests that spread all over the Middle East for instance where not chopped down by humans, we weren’t even there! The bleaching of the worlds coral reefs, although tragic, are only indirectly caused by humans as the seas warm up, as such, I would easily classify humans as biome disruptor’s. There are geographical and planetary forces on Earth that are far more powerful then we could ever produce on our own. The ever present movement of tectonic plates have a far greater impact over geological time then humans, we have yet developed the ability to move continents around the planet. This isn’t an excuse, but we cannot be blamed for every little thing that happens in our world.

The Bottom Line

Our planet always has the upper hand, so don’t screw around with it.

World’s Biomes