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A major community of plants and animals having similar life forms or morphological features and existing under similar environmental conditions. The biome, which may be used at the scale of entire continents, is the largest useful biological community unit. In Europe the equivalent term for biome is major life zone, and throughout the world, if only plants are considered, the term used is formation. See Ecological communities

Each biome may contain several different types of ecosystems. For example, the grassland biome may contain the dense tallgrass prairie with deep, rich soil, while the desert grassland has a sparse plant canopy and a thin soil. However, both ecosystems have grasses as the predominant plant life form, grazers as the principal animals, and a climate with at least one dry season. Additionally, each biome may contain several successional stages. A forest successional sequence may include grass dominants at an early stage, but some forest animals may require the grass stage for their habitat, and all successional stages constitute the climax forest biome. See Desert, Ecological succession, Ecosystem, Grassland ecosystem

Distributions of animals are more difficult to map than those of plants. The life form of vegetation reflects major features of the climate and determines the structural nature of habitats for animals. Therefore, the life form of vegetation provides a sound basis for ecologically classifying biological communities. Terrestrial biomes are usually identified by the dominant plant component, such as the temperate deciduous forest. Marine biomes are mostly named for physical features, for example, for marine upwelling, and for relative locations, such as littoral. Many biome classifications have been proposed, but a typical one might include several terrestrial biomes such as desert, tundra, grassland, savanna, coniferous forest, deciduous forest, and tropical forest. Aquatic biome examples are fresh-water lotic (streams and rivers), fresh-water lentic (lakes and ponds), and marine littoral, neritic, upwelling, coral reef, and pelagic. See Fresh-water ecosystem, Marine ecology, Plants, life forms of

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Bioscience. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


An entire community of living organisms in a single major ecological area.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an aggregation of plant and animal species that make up the living population of a particular region. The term is used mainly in foreign ecological and biogeographic literature. The term “biota,” which is applied to wider areas of the earth’s surface, expresses a similar idea.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A complex biotic community covering a large geographic area and characterized by the distinctive life-forms of important climax species.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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