Types of biomes: classification, characteristics, examples and world biomes map of the world

The types of biomes that we know today have their origin in the great transformations that the Earth has experienced since its birth. These changes gave rise to the relief, temperature, climate and other geographical characteristics that are part of the planet today and that determine its forms of life, both animal and plant. Among the examples of biomes, two large groups can be named: aquatic ones, which represent 70% of the planet's surface, and terrestrial ones, which represent 30%.

Types of ecosystems: Classification of the different classes of ecosystems (names, characteristics and images)

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What are biomes?

A biome can be defined as a landscape or environment with common characteristics in relation to its climate (temperature, rainfall, etc.), flora and fauna. The various ecosystems that share similar qualities in terms of animal species, plants and climatic conditions, form small or large communities in the world that belong to the same biome, this can be: tundra, steppe, prairie, forest, etc.

What is biome? The definition of biome can be explained with the example of subtropical deserts on Earth. They are regions with common characteristics (temperature, humidity, precipitation, fauna, vegetation, etc.) that exist in various parts of the world: Australia, Africa, Peru... All these ecosystems form a type of biome: subtropical deserts.

What is a terrestrial biome? They are all the biomes of the planet's continents. The types of biomes in the world are varied, but the two great sets of biomes on the planet are aquatic (70%) and terrestrial (30%).

Elements that define the types of biomes

How many biomes are there? The characteristics of the biomes are defined by the climate and the geographical conditions that make it up: latitude, altitude, relief... and this in turn determines the type of flora and fauna that inhabit it.

The three main climatic zones that define continental biomes are: the tropical zone, the temperate zone, and the polar zone.


It is the distance between the equator and a given point, expressed in angular measurements: from 0° (equator), to 90° N (North Pole) and 90° S (Pole South).

Latitude is one of the factors that determines temperature. As the latitude is higher, the temperature decreases, that is: the closer we are to the poles, the colder it is. According to this parameter, the climate is defined as: tropical, subtropical, equatorial, temperate, polar and subpolar.

Altitude and relief

Altitude is the distance that exists with respect to sea level (0 meters) from any point on the planet. Altitude defines the temperature and atmospheric pressure. For example, when climbing a mountain, as you reach higher altitudes, the cold increases.

The relief defines the temperature for several reasons. For example, a mountain range hinders the transit of clouds and slows down the wind, it also determines the amount of sunlight that the area receives. All this in turn determines the climate, fauna and flora of the region.


Precipitation, in any of its manifestations (rain, snow, drizzle, hail), determines the humidity of an ecosystem, in this way they are defined as: arid, semi-arid, humid and sub-humid .

Related Terms

What are biomes? The term biome is related to other concepts and these definitions are often confused.

Classification of types of biomes

How many biomes are there? There are several methods of classifying the Earth's biomes. Throughout history they have evolved and each model takes into account the criteria that it considers decisive.

Classification of biome types according to Holdridge

To classify biomes and their types, this model uses the effects of precipitation and temperature on vegetation as criteria. The system was developed by Leslie Holdridge (1907-1999), an American climatologist and botanist. In the model, different biomes or terrestrial areas are classified according to the global bioclimatic behavior.

Holdridge defines what he called “30 humidity provinces” using 4 axes: precipitation, altitudinal floor, biotemperature, and latitudinal region. Although his scheme does not take sun or soil into account, the author recognized that these factors were important in determining the biome.

Whittaker's Classification of Biome Types

Whittaker (1920-1980) was an American botanist and ecologist who wanted to classify biome types in a simple way. The pattern of it is based on two factors: temperature and precipitation. This model can be seen as the simplification of the Holdridge model.

Whittaker used “gradient analysis” to relate climate to communities on a global scale and classify different types of biomes. In his scheme, the relationship between the average annual precipitation and the average annual temperature is graphically represented.

WWF System

The WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) system was developed by a group of biologists who divided the planet into 867 ecoregions. The biome level in biology was organized into two large groups: marine and terrestrial. In this way, the main groups were identified: 14 terrestrial, 7 marine and 12 freshwater types. The biome map of the world was transformed with this system.

Walter's Classification of Biome Types

Walter was a German ecologist who developed a system for classifying ecosystems or biomes based on temperature and precipitation. In his model there are nine large biomes in ecology that differ by their characteristics in terms of climate and vegetation, and are related to other conditions such as cold and humidity.

Bailey's Classification of Biome Types

Bailey developed a biome type classification model for the United States that was published in 1976. He later expanded it to include South America in 1981 and finally in 1989 included the biomes on the entire planet. This system is based on climate with the following classification: temperate, humid temperate, humid, tropical humid, dry and polar. It also relates other characteristics of a biome such as: marine and continental, mountains and lowlands, etc.

What are the main terrestrial biomes?

What are the terrestrial biomes? Although there is no consensus on biome types and their characteristics, nor a single biome classification, in general the world's terrestrial biomes include: grasslands, forests, deserts, steppes, savannahs, taiga, and tundra. The following is the map of the biomes of the world (examples of biomes).


The desert is a type of biome typical of areas where annual rainfall is less than 225 mm. In these regions, biodiversity is scarce and the species that inhabit them develop incredible adaptation mechanisms to survive. In some deserts years go by without rain. Its biome features are:

Types of biomes: classification, characteristics, examples and world map of biomes of the world

The main deserts of the world are to the west of Australia, in the north of Africa, Asia Minor, arid zones of Arizona (United States), southern South America and in the north of Mexico.

Sahara Desert

The Sahara Desert is the third largest on Earth (the first being the Antarctic and the second the Arctic). It is also the largest in the world among the hot deserts. It has a dry climate. The annual precipitation is less than 127 mm. It has areas that have not received rain for years. It presents extreme temperature variations, with frosts at night and 54 °C during the day.

Its extension is equivalent to the United States or China with 9,400,000 km². It is part of: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Chad, Morocco, Mali, Nigeria, Mauritania, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Tunisia and Sudan.

Atacama Desert

This desert ranks second as the driest on Earth (first being the McMurdo Valleys, Antarctica). It is found in Chile and covers: Arica and Parinacota, Antofagasta, Atacama, Tarapacá and northern Coquimbo; It has an area of ​​approximately 105,000 km². Atacama is located in an area called "rain shadow" which means lack of rain and high evaporation.

In some areas of this desert, the rains occur every 15-40 years. In the central sector there has been an absence of rain for 400 years. Other sectors are affected by the highland winter and there are some rains.


This biome is in areas with rainfall of 300 to 1,500 mm per year, a figure higher than that of the desert, but insufficient to support a forest. They are semi-arid regions of temperate latitudes with flat terrain, devoid of trees and covered with grasslands. Their characteristics are:

This biome is found in many parts of the world: Argentina, North America, Australia, Siberia, southern Brazil, etc.

Prairies of North America

In the United States, the prairies cover a large territory in its western and central region, extending towards Canada in the north and as far as Mexico in the south. On the North American prairies the wind blows all the time. Previously, this biome occupied about 400,000 square kilometers of the region and numerous herds of bison inhabited them. Now many of these environments were used for farms and agricultural developments. Occasionally you can see prairie dogs, owls, snakes and small herds of pronghorn, among others.

Deciduous forests

They are characterized by the presence of trees that lose their leaves when autumn arrives, such as oaks, elms, hazelnuts and chestnuts. This biome is usually between 35º and 55º latitude. They have abundant rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year and four distinct seasons.

In its soil, organic matter abounds, a product of the decomposition of the leaves that fall in autumn and winter. This biome that is located in California, around the Mediterranean, in South America (Chile and Argentina), in North Africa. It has a diverse fauna, with local animals and migratory species.

Muniellos deciduous forest (Asturias)

The Muniellos deciduous forest is one of the best preserved in Western Europe. It is also the largest forest area in Asturias and the largest oak forest in the Iberian Peninsula. It is a Biological Reserve and Special Protection Zone for Birds (ZEPA). In geographical terms, the forest is located in the Atlantic Region. This reserve has the largest biological diversity in the Cantabrian mountain range. It has more than 400 species of flora, among which are numerous endemic plants.


This biome is distinguished by low temperatures (-15 to 5 °C). Rainfall is scarce with approximately 300 mm per year. Due to its low evaporation rate, water is not a problem even though it does not rain much.

Tundra soil permanently freezes and thaws, making it poor in nutrients. The plants that inhabit it are mosses, grasses and lichens and its fauna is mainly made up of large mammals and migratory species. It is estimated that 10% of the Earth's surface is tundra.

Tundra is found in Alaska, Siberia, south of Greenland, north of Canada, north of Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands, in Chile and in Patagonia (Argentina).

Arctic Tundra

Found in the Northern Hemisphere: Alaska, Russia, and Canada. In the Arctic tundra temperatures can reach -50ºC, rainfall is low, the ground is covered with snow or ice and there may be grasses, mosses and some plants. Although it is not common there may be trees. The strong winds that whip those regions are also characteristic.

With the arrival of summer, temperatures exceed 0 ºC and the ground thaws. Migratory species like the arctic owl return to the tundra. The fauna that lives in this type of biome have adequate physical conditions for the environment, such as dense plumage or a thick layer of fat that helps them withstand climatic conditions. Some tundra species are: foxes, bears, hares, etc.


The steppes are vast, flat territories with little rainfall and extreme climates. Cold deserts are also associated with the term steppe to differentiate them from hot deserts. Shrubs and low grass dominate the landscape.

Soils are characterized by having little organic matter and many minerals. In some areas, the large amount of iron oxide contained in the soil gives it a reddish hue. The climate is dry, semi-arid with low temperatures during winter and high temperatures in summer.

This biome is located in Asia (Mongolia). Also in North America, from southern Canada, passing through the United States in the states of Kansas, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, to finally reach northern Mexico. . The subtropical steppe is found in regions close to the Mediterranean Sea, in Chile and Argentina. There are also the steppes of the Andean mountain range that runs through the entire western part of South America.

Argentine Patagonian Steppe

The Argentine Patagonian steppe occupies a large part of Patagonia (approximately 730 thousand km²) in the southwest of Mendoza, in the province of Neuquén, southwest of the Río Negro and Santa Cruz (except the westernmost area).

The relief is vast plains, stepped plateaus, and valleys with grasslands and low shrubs. The soils are sandy and scarce in organic matter. The climate is cold and temperate, and little rainfall (between 100 and 300 mm per year). All these qualities make up a dry climate and this conditions the species that inhabit it: lizards, birds and small mammals.

Tropical jungle

The climate is hot and humid, with abundant rainfall, mighty rivers with violent floods. The vegetation is dense with large trees, climbing plants, palm trees, vines, etc. It has the greatest biodiversity (animal and plant), with more than 50% of the planet's species.

Tropical forests belong to a biome that is located in large areas close to the equator, in South America in the Amazon region, Africa in the Congo, Indonesia and Thailand, among others.

Thailand Rainforest

Thailand's rain forest is extremely beautiful and biodiverse. In it you can find mountains, lakes, waterfalls, rivers, etc. Its climate is tropical with heavy monsoon rains between May and November. In Thailand, the jungle occupies 60% of the territory and is made up of exotic vegetation of palm trees, teak, mahogany, bamboo, wild flowers and fruit trees. You can find 25 thousand types of flowers and more than 500 types of trees. Its fauna is also rich and varied: leopards, tigers, tapirs, rhinos, elephants, bamboo bears...


Savannahs are flat expanses of land with sparse shrubs and few trees. This biome is present in areas of high temperatures and two seasons: rainy and dry. Depending on these two seasons, animals move in search of water and plants grow rapidly or dry up.

Animals gather in herds (herbivores, carnivores, and scavengers) and adjust their breeding cycles based on food availability. Tropical savannahs cover large areas of South America, India, Africa, Northern Australia, and Southeast Asia.

La Gran Sabana (Venezuela)

The Venezuelan Gran Sabana is a national park of incomparable beauty. It is based on the oldest geological formation on the planet: the Guiana Shield. The relief is undulating and in some points it is about 1000 meters above sea level. Its soil is sandy and rocky. The temperature has an average of 20ºC, although at night it can drop to 13ºC or less.​

It has a dry period from January to March and a rainy period of nine months, with an annual average rainfall of 1,600 to 2,200 mm. In these extensive Venezuelan savannahs strong winds blow all year round. It has a large number of endemic plant species and various animal species: the Amazonian giant otter, the armadillo, the anteater, the limpet, the ocelot or cunaguaro, etc.


In the taiga, also called boreal forest, the climate is wet and cold. The average temperature in summer is 19°C and in winter it can reach -30°C. The average rainfall is 450 mm per year. The predominant vegetation is coniferous. The forests are mixed (coniferous and other trees such as willows, poplars, poplars, etc.).

In regions with more inclement weather, only one type of tree usually develops, so the forest takes on a uniform appearance. The fauna is usually made up of wolves, foxes, brown bears, deer, weasels, etc. the birds migrate when winter rages, the other animals hibernate.

The boreal forest on a world map can be seen only in the northern hemisphere. The taiga occupies regions of northern Europe, America (Canada and Alaska) and Russia (in Siberia). In the southern hemisphere there are no taigas because there are no lands where this type of forest can be found.

Siberian Taiga

The Western Siberian taiga is a vast forest beginning in the Ural Mountains and extending unbroken to the Yenisei River. This huge virgin forest covers an area of ​​1,670,000 km2 .

The region is unpopulated, only on the edge of the forest are there urban centers. In the north the taiga ends to give way to the tundra. The climate is cold and is known as boreal climate. Winters are long and with extreme temperatures, while summers are short and dry.

Temperatures in the Siberian taiga do not exceed 19ºC, but in winter it can reach -30ºC. Rainfall reaches 450-500 mm per year. The tree species are conifers, but to the north there are also firs, black pines, larch, etc. In the south you can see willows, oaks, maples... Animal species are abundant: deer, hares, reindeer, mink, squirrels, mice, various types of birds, etc.

Types of aquatic biomes

Aquatic biomes and ecosystems are the regions of the Earth that are covered by water, be they seas, lakes, rivers... There are several types of aquatic biomes. Freshwater biomes are those made up of moving water (rivers and streams) and still water (lakes and lagoons). Marine biomes are oceanic and near shore.

Marine Biomes

Marine biomes are made up of the Earth's seas and oceans and cover 70% of the Earth's surface. These types of biomes are divided into coastal biomes and oceanic biomes. The coastal biomes are characterized by the shallowness of their waters and the abundance of nutrients. In them you can find mollusks, echinoderms, algae and coral reefs. Animals such as seals and turtles are common in these biomes. Ocean biomes are characterized by the depth of their waters where light hardly reaches. In very deep areas, the fauna has adapted to survive without light.

The Mariana Trench

It is the deepest place on the planet. It is in the Pacific Ocean, in the southeast of the Mariaras Islands. The closest countries are China and Japan to the north and Papua New Guinea to the south. This great depression measures 2,550 km long by 69 km wide. Its exact depth is unknown, so far 10,984 meters is the closest measurement.

In terms of biodiversity, coral reefs can be seen up to 200 m deep. At 600 m you can see common animals of that depth in other seas on the planet. In the deepest areas, more than 200 species of microorganisms and giant unicellular organisms, similar to sea sponges, have been found. These beings have incredibly adapted to the environment and are highly specialized for survival in these extreme conditions.


Mangroves develop in flooded or swampy regions of the tropics or subtropics. These forests are characterized by their trees that grow on the coast and are tolerant of salt water and variations in water levels.

They develop in coastal areas of inlets, marshes, freshwater outlets (river mouths), estuaries... The name mangrove has its origin in the Guarani language and in Spanish it translates as "twisted tree".

There are over seventy species of mangrove trees. These environments provide natural shelter against erosion, waves and winds, to the great biodiversity of animals that inhabit them: amphibious, aquatic and terrestrial species.

Mangroves are found in the American continent (Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela...), Australia, India, Nigeria, etc.

Sundarbans Mangroves

The largest mangroves in the world, found in the delta formed by the Ganges, Meghna and Brahmaputra in the Bay of Bengal. The name Sundarban means "beautiful forest" in Bengali. The forest extends from southwestern Bangladesh to the Sundarbans park in India.

This mangrove swamp is home to more than 120 species of fish, some of which are endemic to the area. Also more than 260 species of birds, 50 species of reptiles, 24 species of shrimp, etc.

The most common mammals are monkeys, but you can also see foxes, jackals and other animals. The place is considered a wildlife sanctuary for housing protected species, also some endangered such as the Bengal tiger.

Freshwater Biome

This is the freshwater biome and covers about 20% of the Earth. It represents 0.8% of the total terrestrial water. These biomes are divided into those with moving water (rivers and streams) and those with still water (lakes and lagoons).

Climate and biodiversity will be determined by several factors such as water depth, location and season. Frogs, turtles, raccoons, shrimp, crabs, snakes, etc. inhabit these types of biomes.

The Nile River

The Nile River is one of the longest in the world. The Nile measures 6,650 km and is located in Africa flowing towards the Mediterranean Sea. It crosses Egypt, Eritrea, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi. It flows north of Egypt into one of the largest deltas on Earth.

The great biodiversity of the Nile is especially rich in the delta. Its flora is made up of bamboo, ebony trees, banana trees, among others. As for the fauna, there are a large number of endogenous species. It is home to the well-known Nile crocodile, as well as species such as turtles and hippos, among others.

How many types of biomes are there on earth? The world's biomes have many classifications and there is no definitive consensus on the number of existing biomes. The images reflected in the world maps of biomes can vary greatly from one another, however, among the most used examples of biomes are tropical forests, tundras, deserts, grasslands, forests, steppes and savannahs.

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