Explain what is meant by the biosphere and ecological diversity and give examples of some major biomes

Essay by WhackyA-, September 2004

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The term biosphere is derived from two words: bios, meaning life, and sphere meaning globe. Therefore the biosphere is the earth's relatively thin zone of air, soil, and water that is capable of supporting life. This ranges from about 10 km into the atmosphere, to the deepest ocean floor. The biosphere can be viewed as a system or a set of functions that operates together and is dependent on each other, that is, a global ecosystem composed of both biotic and abiotic components. The biotic part of the biosphere is all the plants and animals whilst the abiotic part of the biosphere consists of all the non-living parts of the ecosystem: the climate, the geological and physical features. Therefore, the whole diversity of living biological communities is beneficial to the functioning of the biosphere. The diversity of ecosystems and the ever-present diversity of biotic and abiotic relationships that inherent in our biosphere is known as ecological diversity or ecosystem diversity.

A constant supply of energy comes from the sun, with water being the major factor in sustaining life in all ecosystems.

Many places on the Earth share similar climatic, topographic (local geographical features, position of the rivers, vegetation distribution etc. of a particular place or district) and soil conditions and roughly comparable communities that have developed in response to similar conditions in widely separated locations. These major complexes of ecosystems determined by a particular set of climatic conditions and comprising of a different set of organisms are known as biomes.

Terrestrial biomes are influenced by latitude, elevation and associated moisture and temperature regimes. Temperature and precipitation are amongst the most important factors that determines the biome distribution shown in Figure 1, as this helps in finding out the type of biological communities that are most likely to develop in that...