The region of the earth extending from the surface of the upper crust to the maximum depth at which organic life exists.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the earth’s envelope in which the living substance of the planet is concentrated. It is situated on the boundary between the surface layer of the earth’s crust and the ocean of air and in the upper part of the water envelope. There are numerous synonyms for “biogeosphere”: layer of concentration of life, film of life (V. I. Vernadskii), biogeocenotic cover (V. N. Sukachev), phytogeosphere (E. M. Lavrenko), epigenema (R. I. Abolin), and vitasphere (A. N. Tiuriukanov and V. D. Aleksandrova). The concept of the earth’s landscape envelope is close in scope to the biogeosphere.

Unlike the biosphere, which according to V. I. Vernadskii includes not only the biogeosphere but remote parts of the atmosphere and earth’s crust, the biogeosphere occupies only the region of concentration of living matter; it is a film whose thickness varies from several meters (in the steppes, deserts, and tundras) to tens and hundreds of meters (in forest communities and seas). At the same time, the functioning mass of living matter on a planetary scale is small (about 1/6 x 10-6 of the earth’s mass), but in activity and consequences, according to Vernadskii, it is one of the mightiest geochemical forces on the planet. The structure and activity of the biogeosphere in space are very heterogeneous. Biogeocenoses are elementary units of the biogeosphere.

The biogeosphere is the only envelope of the earth in which man can remain permanently and carry on normal and many-faceted activity. Man draws almost all his essential resources from the biogeosphere—water, oxygen, fuel, foodstuffs, raw material for industry and building, and so on. The biogeosphere, in turn, is exposed to man’s steadily growing, varied, and profound (including destructive) influences.


Vernadskii, V. I. Biosfera, vols. 1–2. Leningrad, 1926.
Lavrenko, E. M. “O fitogeosfere.” In Voprosy geografii, issue 15. Moscow, 1949.
Sukachev, V. N. “Osnovnye poniatiia lesnoi biogeotsenologii.” In Osnovy lesnoi biogeotsenologii. Moscow, 1964.
Dylis, N. V. “Biogeosfera, ee svoistva i osobennosti.” Izv. AN SSSR: Seria biologicheskaia, 1969, no. 4.
Tiuriukanov, A. N., and V. D. Aleksandrova. “Vitasfera Zemli.” Biull. Moskovskogo obshchestva ispytatelei prirody, 1969, vol. 74, no. 4.


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