Considering the concept of biomes

"On a political map of the world, Earth is divided into countries, of which there are almost 200. But nature, of course, knows no national boundaries, and therefore the natural divisions of the planet are quite different from those agreed upon by humans. While continents are a usefulconcept to geographers and earth scientists, in the worlds of biology, ecology, and biogeography, the concept of a biome makes much more sense. There are more than a dozen basic terrestrial and aquatic biomes or ecosystems, including boreal coniferous forests, deserts, tundra, and underwater environments. Each is a distinct "world" unto itself, with characteristic forms of plant life as well as animal species that congregate around the plants for food or shelter or both. Combined with these features of the biological community are aspects of the inorganic realm that likewise define a biome, for instance, climate and the availability of water." (link)

What do we mean when we use the terms biome, ecosystem, ecoregion, habitat, climate? How are they the same, how are they different?

They are all ecological terms. Scientists have learned to organize all living things into smaller and smaller groups for the sake of making it simpler to identify them based on certain characteristics and features.

Biome refers to a major regional group of plant and animal communities adapted to the natural environment.
A biome is an ecological zone whose uniformity is defined by the type of plant life in relation to temperature and rainfall patterns.

Ecoregion, which is an abbreviated form of ''ecological region', refers to a smaller class. Each biome consists of several ecoregions, an ecoregion(also called bioregion) covering a realm of land/water having geographically distinctive communities, sharing the same environmental conditions and ecological dynamics.

An ecosystem is an interacting community of organisms and their physical environments, from soil minerals to topographic formations to weather patterns. The essential function of such a system is to capture and distribute energy and to cycle nutrients. An ecosystem must provide everything its inhabitants need to live and reproduce: sunlight, food, water, air, nutrients, a place to live or grow, others of their own species.

A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant, or other type of organism. A place where a living thing lives is its habitat. It is a place where it can find food, shelter, protection and mates for reproduction. It is the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds a species population.

Climate is the statistics (usually, mean or variability) of weather, usually over a 30-year interval. It is measured by assessing the patterns of variation in temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, precipitation, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological variables in a given region over long periods of time. Climate differs from weather, in that weather only describes the short-term conditions of these variables in a given region.


Watch the videos on the Biome videos page of this wiki Climate zones

How many biomes in Africa?

"...It would be futile to attempt to say exactly how many biomes there are on Earth, since the number varies according to interpretation." (link) It depends on who you ask....

Biomes of Africa Source: UN Environment Programme - UNEP


Biomes of Africa



Savannah (Tropical Grasslands)

Tropical Rain Forest


Temperate Grassland

Alpine (Montane, High Plateau, Highlands)

Karoo Biome
Nama Karoo

Sahel (Scrub, Shrublands, Arid Grasslands)

Chaparral (Mediterranean, Fynbos)

Tropical and Subtropical Moist Forests

In Southern Africa seven biomes are found, namely Fynbos, Savannah, Grassland, Nama-Karoo, Succulent Karoo, Desert and Forest. Each of these biomes is classified according to rainfall, dominant life forms and other structural characteristics.

Freshwater biomes:

Freshwater biomes are large communities of plants and animals centered around water with less than 1% salt concentration. They are very important to survival on Earth. Types of freshwater biomes include ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, and even some wetlands. (Wetlands are not always considered freshwater biomes because they usually have too high of a salt content.)

Lakes and ponds are considered still water since they do not move very fast. Rivers and streams move water from one area to another and are known as moving waters. Both still waters and moving waters offer a home to many different types of plants and animals. Many of these organisms are structured to live in a specific type of freshwater habitat. For example, some plants thrive in the nice calm waters of a lake but don't survive in rivers and streams, unless they have a specific structure or can hold onto objects like rocks.

Estuaries are the areas between the moving and still waters. They also offer a habitat to many different plants and animals, including types of coral reefs, fish, shellfish, and birds. Some of the animals in estuaries have a very unique ability to survive in both fresh water and salt water.

Different areas of freshwater biomes have different structures and resources. For example, a headwater, or the source of a river or stream, has water that is clearer and higher in oxygen levels than the middle of the river or the end, the mouth of the river. Examples of headwaters include springs, snowmelt, or even lakes. In the headwaters, you will find trout and heterotrophs. In the middle there is much more diversity in species. In the mouth, it is murky with all of the sediment the water picked up on the way. Less oxygen and light leads to a lot less diversity of species in the mouth or end of the river.