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
Colorado Plateau shrublands Last Updated on 2015-08-31 16:39:41 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection   The Colorado Plateau shrublands is epitomized by the Grand Canyon, an area that has been called the "land of color and canyons." The Plateau can be thought of as an elevated, northward-tilted saucer. It is characterized by its high elevation and arid to semi-arid climate. The Colorado Plateau has developed extensive topographic relief through the erosive action of high-gradient, swift-flowing rivers that have downcut and incised the plateau. Approximately 90 percent of the plateau is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries, notably the lower catchmentCatchment is the entire area of a hydrological drainage basin. of the Green River,, the San Juan River and Animas River. This ecoregion is classified within the Deserts and Xeric Shrublands biome, and is codified as WWF Ecoregion... More »
Namibian savanna woodlands Last Updated on 2015-08-11 13:40:29 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Namibian savanna woodlands ecoregion covers the Great Escarpment that delimits the interior of southern Africa from both the Kaokoveld Desert and Namib Desert. This broken and deeply dissected escarpment is an area of high endemism for plants, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds. The northern area of the ecoregion, the Kaoko escarpment, is an endemism "hotspot" (area of extremely high species richness and endemism). The Namibian savanna woodlands comprise a land area of approximately 87,100 square miles. This northern area is poorly protected and is under threat from poaching, off-road driving, and to a lesser extent from farming, and resultant habitat fragmentation;  much of this destabilisation in the Angolan portion of the ecoregion stems from the Cuban mercenaries aided... More »
Kalahari xeric savanna Last Updated on 2015-07-10 18:01:28 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Kalahari xeric savanna is an ecoregion in southern Africa characterized by a harsh climate, where temperatures may vary by 44°C from night to day, and rainfall is infrequent. Rain appears only during the austral summer on the reddish-brown Kalahari sands , pelting the savanna with violent, localized storms. Although this area is semi-arid, there is an impressive diversity of migratory birds and large mammals, both herbivorous and carnivorous; in fact, 550 different vertebrates have been observed in the Kalahari xeric savanna.  This ecoregion is classified within the Deserts and Xeric Shrublands biome. A considerable fraction (approximately 18 percent) of the Kalahari xeric savanna is protected. Where lands are not protected, overgrazing has often severely degraded habitat. Fences are a significant... More »
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 »