What Are the 10 Major Land Biomes?

There is some debate among scientists as to the number of terrestrial or land biomes, but most lists include desert, tundra, tropical rainforest, temperate forest and temperate grassland. Most scientists also list savannah, taiga, chaparral, and the alpine or polar biomes.

The desert biome can be either hot or cold and is characterized by being incredibly dry, with extremely small amounts of precipitation. The tundra biome only occurs in the far northern regions of the planet and is characterized by extremely cold temperatures. The growing season in the tundra is too short to support trees, meaning the primary vegetation in these areas consists of grasses and small shrubs.

Tropical rainforests occur in a belt that stretches from the Tropics of Cancer to Capricorn and are characterized by large amounts of rainfall and fairly consistent temperatures throughout the year. Temperate forests also experience large amounts of precipitation and primarily feature deciduous trees, which lie dormant during the cold winter months. Taiga is the third type of forest biome, which consists mostly of coniferous evergreen trees. These areas also experience extremely cold winters.

Savannahs are quite dry, open grasslands that feature very few, if any trees, while temperate grasslands contain the same types of vegetation, but are generally found in colder areas. Most temperate grasslands have now been converted for agriculture. The chaparral biome is a mix between forest and grassland, but is mostly dominated by small evergreen shrubs. Temperatures are extremely cold all year round in the polar or apline biome, causing these areas to have very little, if any vegetation.