Classification of Terrestrial Ecosystems
After learning “what are terrestrial ecosystems", it is also important to learn more about major terrestrial ecosystem groupings. Terrestrial ecosystems are classified into several types. Major groupings include:
Grassland (Temperate and Savannah): A terrestrial ecosystem that consists of prairies or meadows. Temperate grasslands are found in the prairies in North America, the Pampas in South America, the Steppes in Central Asia, the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia and the Veld in Africa. The summer season on temperate grassland is warm and humid. The climate is cooler than savannahs with an average temperature of 18 degree Celsius in summer and 10 degree Celsius in winter. Numerous animals including deer, saiga antelopes, gophers, wild dogs and bisons are found in the temperate grasslands.
Savannah or tropical grassland is the area located in the interior part of major continents like Australia, South America and Africa. The climate is warm throughout the year with rainfall occurring only in summer season. This terrestrial ecosystem has scattered trees. Animals such as lions, cheetahs, hyenas, zebras, buffalos as well as giraffes and elephants are found in this area.
Chaparral: the Chaparral areas are mainly found in western North America, southwestern Australia, southern tip of South America. The vegetation mainly consists of spiny shrubs with waxy evergreen leaves.
Temperate and Tropical Forests: Temperate forests are found between the polar and tropical regions in Northern and Southern hemispheres. With a moderate climate, temperate forests can be classified into deciduous, coniferous and broadleaved evergreen forests. These tree types serve as basis for classification. Temperate forests are home to many animal species, including mountain lions, bears, rabbits, giant pandas (endangered species in China), kookaburras (Australia) rabbits etc.
Tropical forests are found near the equator. The distinct characteristic of tropical forest is the absence of winter and presence of only rainy and dry seasons. Tropical forests are divided into two major groups: tropical rainforests and tropical deciduous forests.
Deserts: These are areas where vegetation is sparse and rainfall occurs less than 30 cm per year. Deserts occur in the interior of the continents and are found between 25 to 40 degree north and south latitude. Major plants include shrubs that have resistance to droughts. These include sagebrush and cactus. The major fauna in deserts include desert lizards and snakes.