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Terrestrial biomes of the world Lecture Topics:

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1 Terrestrial biomes of the world Lecture Topics:
Biome concept Biome classification, distribution Biome climate patterns (Walters Diagrams) Biome survey/distinctive ecological characteristics

2 Introduction to biome concept
Classification systems Holdridge’s Life Zone system Whittaker’s classification scheme based on annual precipitation, temperature (nine biomes recognized)--simpler for purposes here of describing basic biomes

3 Robert Whittaker’s classification of biomes, based on annual precipitation, temperature

4 Global distribution of biomes

5 Walter climate diagram: generic
Ecosystem water-limited if temperature line (red) exceeds precipitation line (blue) White zone denotes frozen conditions, inhospitable for life Effective growing season (temperature above 0 ºC)

6 Temperate seasonal forest biome

7 Temperate forest physical environment
Found at temperate latitudes, typically 40-60º latitude Climate highly seasonal: Cool winter & warm summer, plentiful precipitation all year Cold makes water unavailabledeciduous foliage (leaf drop), brilliant fall colors (depending on species) Spring flush of leavesabundant herbivores (caterpillars,etc.) and migratory birds that feed on them Vernal herbs flower in spring, where forest floor warms up before trees leaf-out (e.g., sweet white violet) Different subtypes of biome Northern hardwoods—e.g., sugar maple, yellow birch Southern hardwoods—oaks, sweet gum, tulip poplar, & evergreens (magnolias, live oak, and pines). Southern pinewoods on poor, sandy soils; fire important

8 Examples of temperate seasonal forest
Louisiana examples: Bottomland hardwoods, upland mixed-mesophytic (coniferous & deciduous) forest

9 Temperate rain forest

10 Temperate rainforest characteristics
Found at temperate latitudes, typically 40-60º (Northwestern U.S., S. Chile, E. Australia, New Zealand) Climate moderately seasonal: Mild winter (below freezing) versus warm to hot summer, Abundant winter rain Summer fog Plants dominated by giant needle-leaved trees (in U.S.: redwoods, western hemlock, douglas fir, western cedar) Ancient, formerly widespread forest type Why giant trees? Year-round growing season, abundant moisture, strong potential evapotranspiration all contribute

11 Examples of temperate rainforest plants

12 Temperate grassland/desert

13 Physical environment of temperate grassland/desert biome
Typically 25-50º N, S of equator Climate characterized by high rate evaporation (often warm temperatures), & periodic severe (summer) droughts Rainfall cm annually, too little to support forest Often subject to fire—e.g., prairie , longleaf pine (essentially prairie with scattered pine trees) Steppes are cold deserts, dominated by shrubs & grassland Plants—1º productivity proportional to rainfall Grasses dominate (because they’re competitive over trees where fire, grazing predominate) High degree spatial heterogeneity in plants, due to topography, soils, fire history, animal activity (e.g., prairie dogs, bison)

14 Examples of temperate grassland/desert vegetation
(also known as shrub-steppe)

15 Woodland/shrubland

16 Physical environment & plants of woodland/shrubland biome
Location (30-40º N, S of equator) Mediterranean region, coastal California, Chile, southern S. Africa, south-western Australia Climate “Mediterranean” (mild, wet winter; hot, dry summer = drought) Plants Fire adapted, dense evergreen shrubs Often deeply rooted, to get at scarce (summer) water Sclerophyllous (waxy, drought-resistant) leaves Aromatic compounds that dissuade insect herbivores

17 Examples of woodland/shrubland vegetation
Vegetation type also known as matorral (Chile)

18 Subtropical desert

19 Physical characteristics of deserts
Evaporation exceeds precipitation (rainfall <30 cm) 20-30º N & S Latitude (subtrop. high pressure zone) Plants adapted to drought (= xerophytes) Small leaves dissipate heat, large edge:area ratio Water-storage mechanisms (e.g., many cacti) Conserve H2O (e.g., CAM photosynthesis, waxy cuticle) Protected against herbivores—spines, aromatic compounds Diverse life-forms of desert plants: Succulents (e.g., saguaro & barrel cactus) store water Ephemerals (annuals) grow rapidly, seed after a rain Phreatophytes (e.g., mesquite, palo verde) deeply rooted Opportunistic perennials (ocotillo) flush leaves, flower after rain

20 Boreal forest

21 Boreal (northern coniferous) biome
Climate & setting Found typically from 50-70º N. Latitude (taiga), south in mts. Cold winter, cool-warm summer, 3-5 mo. growing season Taiga (russian for “land of little sticks”) forms continuous stretches of boreal forest, dominated by trees in species of spruce (Picea), fir (Abies); also known as “spruce-moose” biome Diversity of trees low (1-2 spp./site) Conifers dominate (tolerate cold, photosynthesize whenever it’s warm enough, conical shape sheds snow with minimal branch breakage)

22 Boreal forest vegetation

23 Tundra biome

24 Tundra physical environment & plants
Climate & setting Too cold, windy for trees; short growing season (50-60 days in arctic, up to 180 days in alpine zones at higher elevation) Precipitation generally < 25 cm annually (cold air holds little moisture), “locked up” as snow (unavailable to plants) Only in N. hemisphere, north. edge of all northern continents Plants—grassland & mixed shrubland (some dwarf trees) Often low to ground = warmest microclimate, out of wind (e.g., cushion plants) Lichens often important ground (& rock) cover, important in creating soils by breaking down rocks; alders (Alnus) can be an important nitrogen-fixer Northern bogs characteristic of the wettest spots—dominated by carnivorous plants (animal source of N)

25 Some plants of tundra biome

26 Tropical rainforest biome

27 Climate & setting Tropical rainforest
Near equator Climate continuously favorable for intense biological activity (abundant rainfall, >400 cm, & high temperatures) Biological interactions (ecologically, evolutionarily) impt. Biological diversity staggering (latitudinal diversity gradient) Diverse plant life forms: trees, shrubs, epiphytes, epiphylls, vines, lianas (woody), ferns, tree ferns Layering of plants prominent: ground layer, shrubs, sub-canopy, continuous canopy, & “emergents” (up to 60 m tall) Some plant adaptations: Buttresses to help prop up often shallow-rooted trees (why?) Oval, waxy leaves with drip-tips (why?) Nutrient scavenging & extremely tight nutrient cycling

28 Some plants of tropical rainforest biome

29 Tropical seasonal forest biome

30 Tropical seasonal forest/savanna
Tropical seasonal forest occurs at higher latitudes than rainforest (10-20º N, S) Rainfall less than rainforests ( cm), highly seasonal 3-6 month dry season, often with no rainfall Dry forests have almost as diverse plant and animal communities as rainforests Trees typically drought-deciduous (facultative) Ant-acacia mutualism is characteristic of dry forests of Central America Biome highly threatened by human activities, because of its potential for agriculture, grazing

31 Some trees of tropical savannas

32 Acknowledgements: Some illustrations for this lecture from R. E
Acknowledgements: Some illustrations for this lecture from R.E. Ricklefs The Economy of Nature, 5th Edition. W.H. Freeman and Company, New York.

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