21.Biomes outline
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21.Biomes outline

Course Number: BIO 262, Spring 2008

College/University: Rhode Island

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Ecology topic #22, p. 1 of 8 Biomes 1. Definitions A. Convergence is the process by which unrelated organisms evolve a resemblance to each other in response to common environmental conditions. E.g. mangroves worldwide typically have thick, leathery leaves, root projections, vivipary B. Biome: a type of ecological community characterized by distinctive plant assemblages covering major parts of the earth's surface...

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topic Ecology #22, p. 1 of 8 Biomes 1. Definitions A. Convergence is the process by which unrelated organisms evolve a resemblance to each other in response to common environmental conditions. E.g. mangroves worldwide typically have thick, leathery leaves, root projections, vivipary B. Biome: a type of ecological community characterized by distinctive plant assemblages covering major parts of the earth's surface Key points: I. Geographic distributions of biomes correspond closely to major climate zones because no single type of plant can endure the entire range of conditions on earth III. Biome types can be very uniform wherever they occur on the globe, even though they may possess different species. E.g. Rain forests or deserts in different parts of the world 3. Climatic and physical conditions are the major determinants of plant distributions A. Because heat influences moisture stress, temperature and precipitation together are the determinants of boundaries of major biomes. B. A widely adopted climatic classification is that of Heinrich Walter based on the annual course of temperature and precipitation (see text Figure 5.8) I. Recognizes 9 climate zones, from Equatorial (Tropical rain forest) to Polar (Tundra) C. A different approach: Whittaker started with vegetation structure and related it to average precipitation and temperature (see text Figure 5.9) Ecology topic #22, p. 2 of 8 I. The biomes fall in a triangular area with corners representing following warmmoist, warm-dry, or cool-dry conditions. A. Other Considerations I. Soils provide the foundation for terrestrial biomes and influence local plant distributions a. Profile provides a snapshot of soil structure in a constant state of flux. O horizon: Organic Layer freshly fallen organic material - most superficial layer. A horizon: Mixture of minerals, clay, silt and sand. B horizon: Clay, humus, and other materials leached from A horizon - often contains plant roots. C horizon: Weathered parent material. II. Fire shapes vegetation toward drier end of spectrum, typically in grassland and shrub biomes where moisture is intermediate (sufficient productivity for fuels to accumulate) and seasonal droughts occur (fuels dry out sufficiently to burn). 4. Terrestrial Biomes A. Temperate seasonal forest I. Variable climate, warmer and wetter in the south. II. Precipitation 650-3000 mm/yr, mostly as rain III. Temperature extremes can be significant: -20 to -40 F to 100 to 110 F IV. Growing season is 130-180 days V. Composed primarily of deciduous hardwoods with a mixture of conifers. VI. Needle-leaved forests typically develop under conditions of drought and nutrient stress. B. Temperate Grassland/Desert I. Variable precipitation: 30-85 cm/yr in grasslands Ecology topic #22, p. 3 of 8 II. Moderate temperature but notable extremes: -20 F to 110 F common, and even colder temperatures in the north. 120-300 day growing season. III. Soils generally fertile, deep and rich; variable IV. Vegetation is dominated by grasses and forbs: fire is frequent and most species have underground fire-resistant stems V. Location: Major grasslands are widely scattered, covering nearly a quarter of the landed surface: North America ("prairie") Russia ("steppes") VI. Grasslands grade into deserts where winters are cold and summers hot, precipitation is 25-50 cm/yr, western US from Great Basin southward, vegetation is dominated by shrubs, such as sagebrush, or small trees, such as pion pine and juniper. C. Mediterranean Woodland and Shrubland (Chapparal) I. Climate: Cool and wet in winter; hot and dry otherwise. a. Precipitation as rain in late Nov to early Apr, 35-75 cm; falls as rain or rarely as snow. b. Seasonally warm in winter, hot in summer, frost infrequent, can exceed 110 F. II. Dominated by small, sclerophyllous (i.e., leathery), xerophytic (dry-adapted) evergreen shrubs and a mixture of low conifers and hardwood trees. III. Location: Coastal southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico. Widely scattered elsewhere in the world: southern Europe and northern Africa, African Cape Region Ecology topic #22, p. 4 of 8 A. Subtropical Desert I. Minimal precipitation (less than 25cm) and humidity (low during some of the year, essentially nonexistent during the rest), subtropical deserts typically have summer rainfall, with high species diversity II. Hot; high temperatures during some/most of the year, and great daily fluctuations in temperatures. II. Develop at 20-30 north and south latitude. III. Creosote bush is common in subtropical American deserts, with associated cacti, shrubs, and small trees B. Tropical rain forest I. Moisture: Average annual precipitation: 200-400 cm II. Temperature: high solar radiation, averages 77 F. III. Consistent day length of about 12 hours. IV. Most lush biome, dominated by evergreen or seasonally broadleaved deciduous trees. Tropical rainforests are the Earth's oldest living ecosystems. Fossil records show that the forests of Southeast Asia have existed in more or less their present form for 70 to 100 million years. C. Savanna/Tropical Seasonal Forest I. Tropical seasonal forests are found where climate is seasonally dry, but sufficient moisture to support deciduous species. Savannas are grasslands with scattered trees and shrubs. Ecology topic #22, p. 5 of 8 II. Savannah Moisture: Average annual precipitation: 90-150 cm, all precipitation occurring during less than 6 months of the year. Drought during winter. Drier than the tropical seasonal forest biome. II. Temperature: averages > 64 F G. Taiga/boreal forest I. Little moisture (40-50 cm) mostly as summer rains. II. Freezing temperature, extreme cold (-100 F is not uncommon). The temperature rarely exceeds 85 F in the summer. 50-100 day growing season. III. Forest dominated by densely arranged dark evergreen conifers IV. Shallow soils, wet, deep permafrost; nutrient poor. V. Location: centered on a broad belt at 50-60N latitude across North America and Eurasia (Alaska, Canada, Russia, China) H. Tundra I. Dry: 15-35 cm rainfall as summer and fall cold rains. II. Cold: Freezing temperature can occur any day of the year and temperatures rarely exceed 60 F even during the warmest of months. Brief but active summer growing season. III. Soils: Wet, shallow, often permanently frozen or with permafrost. IV. Location: Northernmost & circumpolar in northern hemisphere. In northern Alaska and Canada, all of Hudson Bay in east. 5. Aquatic Biomes A. The biology of aquatic systems depend on physical factors: light and temperature, water movements; and chemical factors like salinity and dissolved oxygen. Ecology topic #22, p. 6 of 8 B. Habitat classifications I. Benthic: Habitats at the bottom of a body of water (oceans, lakes, etc.) II. Pelagic: Habitats existing off of the bottom of a body of water C. Oceans I. Largest portion of Earth's surface: over 360,000,000 km2 spread over three major ocean basins (Pacific:Average depth= 4000m, Atlantic:Average depth = 3,900m, Indian:Average depth= 3,900m) II. Divided into zones a. Littoral/intertidal: Shallow shoreline under tidal influences b. Neritic: Coast to the margin of the continental shelf (200 m deep) c. Oceanic: Beyond the continental shelf; divided into pelagic zones, abyssal zone (4000 - 6000 m), and hadal zone (deepest part of the oceans) III. High salinity, little annual variation in temperature IV. Nutrient-rich water brought to surface by upwelling, nourishing large communities of phytoplankton and zooplankton D. Shallow marine waters (kelp forests and coral gardens) I. Rely on light for photosynthesis; kelp can grow >40 m in length and coral can survive nearly 100 m below surface II. Coral restricted to warm-water areas; kelp can grow in much cooler water III. Reliant on ocean currents to deliver oxygen and nutrients and remove waste products IV. Coral reefs may develop around volcanoes, which may subside or erode, leaving a ring-like atoll Ecology topic #22, p. 7 of 8 E. Estuaries, salt marshes, and mangrove forests I. Transitional habitats, either between land/sea (salt marshes, mangrove forests) or between rivers/sea (estuaries). II. Strongly influenced by tidal surges; considerable variation in light and salinity levels. III. Nutrient inputs from terrestrial systems make these very productive ecosystems; species diversity is often low, but the species are present are very abundant. F. Rivers and streams I. Divided by length into pools, runs, riffles, and rapids. II. Divided by width into wetted channel (contains water even during low flow conditions) and active channel (present on either side of wetted channel; contains water during sometimes a year and is dry during other periods) III. Riparian zone is a transition area between the aquatic and upland terrestrial environments. IV. Streams grow with distance: As rivers and streams increase in size, shading decreases, nutrients increase, and oxygen levels generally decrease. G. Lakes and ponds I. Divided into zones a. Littoral zone: shallowest part, where rooted aquatic plants grow. b. Limnetic zone: epilimnion, warm surface layer; metalimnion (AKA thermocline), area where temperature changes quickly with depth; hypolimnion, cold, deep waters. Ecology topic #22, p. 8 of 8 II. Often stratified by temperature; during fall, thermocline breaks down and temperate lakes mix surface and deep waters. III. Vary widely in productivity a. Oligotrophic: well-mixed lakes with low productivity. b. Eutrophic: stratified lakes (both oxygen and temperature) with very high productivity c. Light absorption depends on nutrient input and biological activity. IV. Humans have had a profound impact on lakes A. Species Introductions

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