Biomes

Biomes are the composite of all species within a large scale ecological community. In the natural environment, these assemblies have typically co-evolved, so that they have a natural arrangement in terms of their positioning to compete for sunlight, water and nutrient resources; in some cases these associations are symbiotic, but in most cases they are simply optimal spatial arrangements to take advantage of all the resources available in a given habitat. For example, there is typically a vertical tiering, where plants of differing light requirements can occupy canopy, mid-level or forest floor niches; the same theory applies even in a grassland, where the canopy is simply the tallest of the grasses or herbs.

In the case of water competition, depth of rooting and tolerance to arid soils are chief determinants for spatial arrangement; as far as nutrient competition, plants will compete to determine the most robust competitor for a given edaphic niche. While the outcome geometry for the plant palette usually appears random, there is a complex network of ecological theory at work that determines the layout of the assembled community. The same concept applies to aquatic communities as to terrestrial systems, with some plants having immersed roots and others, either macrophytes or phytoplankton, floating or immersed at varying levels suitable for their sunlight needs.

  • Borneo montane rainforests Featured Article Borneo montane rainforests Borneo montane rainforests

    WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Borneo montane rainforests can be likened to montane islands in a sea of lowland dipterocarp... More »

  • Ecoregions of Malaysia Featured Article Ecoregions of Malaysia Ecoregions of Malaysia

    The ecogegions of Malaysia include a number of distinct types of rainforests, all of which are sustained by the plentiful rainfall of this equatorial region of Southeast Asia. In... More »

  • Great Victoria Desert Featured Article Great Victoria Desert Great Victoria Desert

    WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection A vast, sparsely populated region covered by dunefields and gibber plains, the Great Victoria Desert... More »

  • Declining grassland biodiversity Featured Article Declining grassland biodiversity Declining grassland biodiversity

    Declining grassland biodiversity is a major ecological issue, although it has received only a small fraction of the attention given to forests or wetlands, by... More »

  • Ecoregions of Chile Featured Article Ecoregions of Chile Ecoregions of Chile

    Chile has eight ecoregions that occur entirely or partly within its borders on the mainland and three ecorgions offshore: Sechura desert Atacama... More »

  • Magellanic subpolar forests Featured Article Magellanic subpolar forests Magellanic subpolar forests

    WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Magellanic subpolar forests is an ecoregion dominated by trees of the genus Nothofagus; this... More »

  • Namibian savanna woodlands Featured Article Namibian savanna woodlands Namibian savanna woodlands

    WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Namibian Savanna Woodlands ecoregion covers the Great Escarpment that delimits the interior of... More »

  • Belizean pine forests Featured Article Belizean pine forests Belizean pine forests

    WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Belizean pine forests on Central America's northwestern Caribbean Sea coast represent various... More »

Recently Updated
Madagascar spiny thickets Last Updated on 2015-06-25 20:16:56 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Madagascar spiny thickets or spiny desert of southern Madagascar, also referred to as deciduous thicket, is a globally distinctive ecoregion. This ecoregion is part of the Deserts and Xeric Shrublands biome, within the Afrotropics Realm. While the island of Madagascar is notable for exceptional levels of endemic plants and animals, the spiny thicket is particularly distinctive with 95 percent of the plant species endemic to the ecoregion. Members of the endemic Didiereaceae family present dominate the thicket, which have similar xeric adaptations to New World cacti, such as small leaves and spines, but with the Madagascar spiny thickets displaying more woody rather than succulent characteristics. There are a total of 288 recorded vertebrate taxa in the Madagascar spiny thickets, including several endemic... More »
Madagascar dry deciduous forests Last Updated on 2015-06-02 11:51:21 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Madagascar dry deciduous forests of western Madagascar are some of the world’s most species rich and most distinctive tropical dry forests. They are characterized by very high local plant and animal endemism at the species, genera and family levels. A significant fraction of these dry forests have been previously cleared, and the remaining forests are fragmented and critically threatened by uncontrolled burning and cuttining for charcoal production, grazing and agriculture. Since human settlement of this region during the Holocene, an estimated 97 percent of the island’s dry deciduous western forests have been destroyed, and those remaining are extremely localized and fragmented. This ecoregion also contains spectacular limestone karst formations, known as tsingy, and their associated forests,... More »
Zambezian flooded grasslands Last Updated on 2015-06-01 15:56:03 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Located within the miombo and mopane woodlands of the Central African Plateau, Zambezian flooded grasslands are an anomaly of productivity and abundance in a landscape characterized by nutrient deficient soil and associated vegetation. Unlike the surrounding woodlands that generally support animals only in rather low densities, the wetlands and floodplains of this ecoregion provide habitats to sizable faunal populations, since food and water are abundant throughout the majority of the year. Large populations of waterbirds gather during the rainy season, and numerous herd animals and  carnivores  frequent the landscape. However, in a climate of rapid population growth and increasing need for land and natural resources, this fragile ecoregion may face increasing threat. Several conservation measures... More »
Madagascar mangroves Last Updated on 2015-05-27 11:30:24 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Shielded from monsoon winds by the Central Highlands of Madagascar, Madagascar mangroves occupy a wide range of environmental and climatic conditions, and chiefly occur at the western coastline along the Mozambique Channel of the Indian Ocean. Although the ecoregion’s species richness is low, it is noteworthy in supporting certain endemic tree species; for example, thre are only 163 vertebrate taxa found in the entire ecoregion. The Madagascar mangroves are within the Mangroves biome of the Afrotropic Realm. These mangroves also shelter highly diverse mollusk and crustacean communities, while capturing sediment that threatens coral reefs and seagrass beds. Dugongs, birds and sea turtles utilise mangroves, as do the native Malagasy people. Rice farming, shrimp aquaculture as well as stockpiling of... More »
Zambezian Baikiaea woodlands Last Updated on 2015-05-16 21:25:29 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Zambezian Baikiaea woodlands lie along a zone where deep Kalahari sands occur in a wide belt along the Angolan-Namibian border across to Zimbabwe, supporting dry deciduous forest dominated by Baikiaea plurijuga. The hot, semi-arid climate and nutrient-poor soils mean that this region is not suitable for farming, and thus it has retained some of its natural vegetation. Over 160 mammal species are found here, including ungulates and large predators. However, human settlements occur along the Kunene, Kwando and Zambezi rivers, and the valuable Baikiaea plurijuga is sought after for the timber trade. The instability promoted in Angola by Soviet financed Cuban troops, and hostilities between Angola and Namibia in the Caprivi Strip have contributed to the degradation of this ecoregion. This ecoregion is a... More »