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Biology LibreTexts

9.1: Geography of Vegetation

  • Page ID
    18032
  • Plants are main components of terrestrial ecosystems, they are primary producers, and almost all terrestrial life if based on plants. Consequently, plants will determine how a particular territory might look, which could be, for example, grassland, tundra, or forest. These types of vegetation (i.e., visually different plant communities) will have different occurrence on Earth. Below is the list of the most important types (they also called biomes):

    Tundra Small-sized plants adapted to the short season, wet soils and sometimes also permafrost

    Taiga Conifer forests

    Deciduous forest Broadleaved temperate forests. The other type of deciduous forests are dry forests of tropical climates.

    Grassland Prairie (North America), steppe (Eurasia), savanna (Africa and Australia), llanos (north South America), pampas (south South America)

    Shrubland Chaparral (North America), maquis (Mediterranean), fynbos (South Africa), bush (Australia)

    Desert Different from shrubland by plants staying apart and soil surface visible

    Tropical forest Selva, tropical rain forest: humid and warm environment, the peak of Earth biodiversity

    Naturally, these biomes are directly related with the climate, mostly with the coldest temperatures and amount of precipitation. If the Earth would be one continent, then these vegetation types will be arranged from a pole to equator exactly in the order from the list above. However, the real picture is more complicated (Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\).)

    Screen Shot 2019-01-05 at 3.08.50 PM.png

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\) Biomes (types of vegetation) of Earth. Please note that this map is largely sim- plified.

    Some smaller biomes, especially different kinds of wetlands (like sphagnum bogs or mangroves) are significantly dispersed, sometimes even intra-zonal (occur in different climatic zones).