1. 1
  2. 2
  1. Next

Ecosystemsecosystem: A community of animals, plants and microorganisms, together with the habitat where they live. can be small-scale, covering a small area (such as a pond) or large-scale covering a large area (such as a tropical rainforest).

The world is divided up into ten major ecosystems. These large-scale ecosystems are called biomes [biome: A large-scale ecosystem. ].

What are the world’s major biomes?


Rainforest in Hawaii

Rainforest in Hawaii - photo courtesy of Sarah Camp

Biomes are large-scale ecosystems defined by abiotic [abiotic: Non-living elements of an ecosystem, such as climate, temperature, water, and soil type. ] factors. These are:

  • climate
  • relief [relief: The height of the ground above sea level. ]
  • geology [geology: The study of the structure of the Earth. ]
  • soils
  • vegetation


  1. 1
  2. 2
  1. Next

Back to Ecosystems - the living world index

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.