Alpine and Aquatic Biomes, Biology tutorial

Introduction:

The biomes are found out mainly by latitude and temperature. Alpine biomes though are influenced by altitude while aquatic biomes encompass their uniqueness. Both alpine and aquatic biomes will be studied here.

Alpine Biomes:

Increasing altitude produced most of the similar changes in temperature and moisture as increasing latitude. The tops of the mountains, thus, encompass typical windswept vegetation similar in numerous respects to tundra. The difference among altitude and latitude though is that day length remains constant up a mountain while it changes by increasing latitude as you approach the poles. Among the biomes influenced through altitude are the following.

1) Alpine Shrub land:

Alpine shrub lands are at times found above the tree line on mountains. They take place in South America, Africa, the Himalaya and New Zealand. Above around 300 m, frosts take place at night and the altitude marks the limit of the mountain forest or tree line. The vegetation in this high position is like that on the mountain of East Africa explained as Afro-alpine of low growing treeless alpine type.

The giant rosette plants (that is, giant lobelias) Lobelia telekii up to 5 to 8 m in height dominate the landscape. Hyrax, mice and rat abound in this alpine biome.

2) Alpine Grassland:

High up the mountain, the climate might be thought to be alike to the climate near the poles. Though, with longer day length on the mountain than the poles and the fact that the mountain frequently receives more rain and snow than the poles, mountain vegetation distinct significantly from the vegetation of the tundra. Alpine plants on the mountain are small and tend to grow slowly having beautiful delicate brightly colored flowers. The alpine marmot (that is, Marmota marmota) takes place all through the Alps of central Europe. Marmots hibernate at least half the year when their heartbeats slow down and body temperature drops to facilitate them conserve energy.

Freshwater Biomes:

Freshwater biomes are mainly found in swamps, bogs, marshes, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams. Bogs are wetlands which only receive water from rainfall. Marshes and Swamps form where water runs off the surrounding land and collects as an outcome of impeded drainage or where ground water lies close to the surface. In certain cases, rivers and streams might as well feed into the regions. It becomes a swamp if the dominant vegetation is trees and a marsh when the vegetation is mainly of grasses and reeds.

1) Cool Temperate Bog:

Bogs tend to be nutrient poor as they get water only from the rain which consists of very little nutrient content. They are dominated by mosses the dominant species being of the genus Sphagnum. Bogs take place mainly in the temperate and boreal areas. Bog community is slow growing and short. Main productivity is slow having only small populations of herbivores like hares, insects and bog lemmings and few predators like owls and spiders. Larger herbivores and predators such as caribou, deer and bears roam over large regions and occasionally enter bogs.

2) Tropical Freshwater Swamp Forest:

The best build up tropical fresh water swamp forests are those of the Amazon basin in the South America. They are dominated through trees. Minerals in the waters and accompanying soils tend to be insufficient so that primary production is low. As such, there are some animals in the biome.

3) Temperate Fresh Water Swamp Forest:

The most well-known swamp area of this biome is found in the Florida (USA) termed as the Everglades. Here the very low-lying land is often flooded. Dominant tree species comprise the swamp cypress and water tupelo.

By the floor of the forest beneath water most of the times some plant species have knee roots which might act as pneumatophores. Animals are plentiful in this swamp forest. In the Everglades, there are around 250 species of birds, 240 of fish, 57 of reptiles 25 of mammals and 17 species of amphibians. Alligators are fairly common in the swamp forest. Marshes that are dominated by sedges, grasses and reeds are common in the temperate zones. The similar genera of plants are common in marshes found in the North America and Eurasia both in the northern hemisphere.

4) Lakes and Ponds:

The factors which affect the biome of lake or pond are the extent to which the water is present all the year round. A pond for instance can be ephemeral or not. The nutrient plenty or lack of it is as well significant. 

Big lakes like the North American Great Lakes drain a huge region which in the past consisted of deciduous forest to the south and conifer forest to the north. Human activities have very much influenced the forests. Salmon fishing employed to be a dominant business in the lakes.

Though, as an outcome of sawdust pollution of streams used through salmon for spawning and that flowed into the lakes, fishing ceased by the year 1900. In the absence of pollution, the presence of plankton in a lake must encourage the presence of many other organisms in the lake and increase the productivity to man's benefit.

5) Streams and Rivers:

Stream and rivers differ greatly. The large Amazon River having its huge mouth can't be compared having a steep stream just taking off from a mountain side. As a stream or river flows from its source to its mouth, the speed reduces the volume of water increases, oxygen level falls, the bed becomes less steep and composed of smaller particles and human influences increase. Streams and rivers dissimilar lakes are unidirectional with relatively fast flow of water. This characteristic might be accountable for the virtual absence of plankton in them. The communities in streams and rivers are therefore, quite dissimilar from those of even adjacent lakes.

Ocean or Marine Biomes:

Marine biomes are found in the intertidal and coastal zones around the oceans of the world. The various types of marine biomes include:

  • Marine rocky shore
  • Marine sandy beach
  • Marine mud flat 
  • Temperate salt marsh
  • Mangrove swamp
  • Coral reef
  • Marine surface pelagic
  • Marine deep pelagic
  • Continental shelf benthos
  • Deep ocean benthos

Marine Rocky Shore:

Marine rocky shore can take place on any rocky coastline and are found in both the tropical and temperate climates. They are found where waves or currents are specifically strong. Vascular plants and mammals are completely absent here. Photosynthetic organisms found here are seaweeds and multi-cellular algae. Basically the animals are invertebrates, a few fish and occasional visit of predatory birds. No organism here is big or obvious similar to oak trees as the energy of the waves crashing on the rock would almost certainly break up and wash them off. Rock pools distinct greatly from one other. A biological characteristic of a rock shore is zonation of organisms in the littoral regions. Those low down on the shore spend almost all their time submerged by water, high up on the shore, they might be submerged just at certain times of the month remaining terrestrial at other times apart from the influence of sea spray. In addition, the plants (like species of seaweed), animals (like sedentary barnacles and mobile periwinkles) as well exhibit feature zonation too.

Marine Sandy Beach:

Marine sandy beaches take place around the world in the littoral belt. They look inviting to humans however pose considerable problems for the organisms living there. Sand is abrasive and constantly on the move as such, no rooted plants can set up in the intertidal area. Apart from for a few calcareous matters from seashells, sand is nutrient poor however diatoms and other algae can be found on the surface layers. In the intertidal area, plankton and detritus brought in by the waves are what small animals based on. Such animals comprise mollusc, bivalve, sea cucumber, crabs, worms and other wormlike or flattened invertebrates. The rich invertebrate life supports huge numbers of wading birds having specialized beaks employed to get rid of invertebrates from different depths of the sand.

Mangrove Swamp:

Mangrove swamps occur all along the coastline of tropical or subtropical areas where strips of swampland are submerged every high tide with the marine or brackish water. Wherever the wave action is not too strong to prevent regeneration, such coastal wetlands are densely vegetated with thickets of mangrove trees. There are around 70 species of mangrove plants around the world having Rhizophora and Avicennia being the most significant genera. Mangroves are well adapted to salty conditions however they are capable of growing in the fresh water. Mangrove swamps are affected by tides as incoming tides bring in nutrients. Plant seeds are as well dispersed by tides. The structure of trees is exclusive and unusual as aerial roots arise quite high up on the trunk then, plunge to the mud beneath.

A diversity of animals live in the mangrove comprising fiddler crabs, alligators, mud skippers crocodiles and in some mangroves big cats like tigers.

Coral Reef:

Corals are coelenterates (that is, invertebrates), relatives of the sea anemones. Most of the corals are colonial and secrete a limestone skeleton from which the polyps extend. The polyps encompass tiny tentacles that catch food and stuff it to a central mouth. At times of danger, the individual polyps pull themselves down to the skeleton out of harm's way.

A coral reef is made up of the limestone skeletons secreted through innumerable colonial coral polyps that are left behind one on top of the other. Coral reefs are just found in clear seas in 50 m of the surface where the temperature remains above 20oC all through the year. Most of the species of corals live altogether in a single reef. These corals support numerous other animals like invertebrates the most renowned being the crown-of-thorns star fish (that is, Acanthaster planci) and lots of fishes. In terms of high productivity, the species variety complexities of co-evolution and sheer beauty, coral reefs are the tropical rainforests of the ocean. They proliferate mostly in the pacific West Indies where we encompass some coral Islands.

Continental Shelf:

The considerable continental shelves which surround most of the continents lie on average, 130 m below sea level, so that in their shallower areas, benthic algae and plants can photosynthesize. Here are found the remarkable Kelp forests of large brown algae like Laminaria. Kelps are frequently found in regions where ocean currents and the action of waves make sure a plentiful supply of nutrients. Their productivity might be high however they enter the food web in the form of detritus as few animals feed on them. The continental shelf benthos supports big numbers of animals from a diversity of phyla. These animals comprise polychaete worms, nemertine worms, sea squirts, mollusks, sponges, sea spiders crustaceans and echinoderms all along by a number of fish.

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