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Compare and Contrast Tropical Rainforest and Tropical Savanna, by Examining Their Characteristics and Features

Autor:   •  April 13, 2011  •  Case Study  •  2,185 Words (9 Pages)  •  6,161 Views

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A biome is a sizeable and stable terrestrial ecosystem featured by a self-sustaining community of land-based plants and animals and their abiotic environment (Christopherson, 2006). Each biome is usually named for its dominant vegetation since it is the most visible and easily identified feature of the biotic landscape (Trewartha, Robinson & Hammond, 1967). As Christopherson (2006) suggested, the vegetations' growth, form, and distribution illustrate their own existence in relation to the Earth's energy patterns, atmospheric composition, temperature, winds, air masses, water quality and quantity, seasons, soils, regional climates, geomorphic processes, and ecosystem dynamics. This is why biomes are terrestrial and particularly climate-dependent.

There are many different types of biome and there is also a good variety of ways to their classification. In general, biomes can be grouped into four major categories according to the nature of vegetation: forest, grassland, desert, and tundra (Arbogast, 2007). The forest biomes, representing a third of the Earth's land, are dictated primarily by trees (, 2009). These biomes span a great climatic range from wet equatorial to cold subarctic (Strahler, 1975), such as tropical rainforest, tropical deciduous forest and scrub, Mediterranean woodland and shrub forest, mid-latitude coniferous forest, and boreal forest (Christopherson, 2006). The grassland biomes are usually semi-arid areas of land dominated by grass as the main form of vegetation with little or no trees, such as tropical savannah and mid-latitude grassland (, 2009). The desert biomes are associated with aridity and extremely low precipitations (, 2009). As a result, they have thinly dispersed plants and a high percentage of ground exposed to direct insolation and weathering (Strahler, 1975). Hot and dry desert, semi-arid desert, and cold desert are examples of desert biomes (Christopherson, 2006). The tundra biomes are the coldest amongst all terrestrial ecosystems where tree growth is hindered by the low temperature and short growing season (Arbogast, 2007;, 2009). These biomes occur at high latitude surrounding the Arctic Ocean, and they fall into these two sub-categories: alpine tundra and arctic tundra (Christopherson, 2006). The complexity of the Earth's climate system has injected uniqueness to each and every of the terrestrial biomes, making them distinguishable from each other and yet sharing some similarities. This essay will now compare and contrast two specific terrestrial biomes, tropical rainforest and tropical savanna, by examining their characteristics and features.

Tropical Rainforests

Tropical Rainforests occupy approximately seven percent of the earth's total land area, and account for one-half of the forests worldwide (Christopherson, 2006). As their name suggests, this terrestrial biomes


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