The global distributions of ecosystems

The distribution of large-scale ecosystems (biomes) is determined by climate. Latitude, air pressure and winds are important factors that determine the climate of a place.

The map shows the distribution of the global ecosystems or biomes.

The Earth's main biomes are polar, temperate deciduous forest, temperate grassland, desert, tropical rainforest, savanna grassland and coral reefs.

Characteristics of biomes

  • Polar - found near the north and south poles. Only specialised plants and animals survive here.
  • Temperate deciduous forest - found across Europe and in the USA. These trees lose their leaves every year and thrive in mild and wet conditions known as a temperate maritime climate.
  • Temperate grassland - found in Hungary, South Africa, Argentina and the USA. Consists of grass and trees that thrive in a temperate continental climate of moderate rainfall and mild conditions.
  • Desert - found near the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Conditions here are very hot and dry. Plants and animals are specially adapted to survive in the harsh conditions.
  • Tropical rainforest - found near the Equator. The climate is hot and humid and many different species can be found here.
  • Savanna grassland - found mainly in central Africa, southern India, northern Australia and central South America. Long grasses and a few scattered trees are found in these hot and dry conditions.
  • Coral reefs - found in a zone extending from 30° north to 30° south of the equator. They form some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth.