Biome Map: Definition, Examples, And Why It Is Important

If you want to gain a better understanding of all living things, from plants to animals, it’s essential to learn about biomes and the role they play in Biology. Learn how to read a biome map and define each type of biome in the world.

Biome Map: Definition, Examples, And Practice

Biomes are an interesting and important part of Biology, and without understanding what a biome is and how it works, you don’t have a full understanding of Biology. Let’s take an in-depth look at biomes, so you can take a look at a biome map and understand it; learning about biomes can also better prepare you for if you’re ever tested on a map of biomes.

What Is A Biome?

While you might have learned a little about biomes when you were in elementary school, there’s a good chance that you don’t have a biome map memorized or know about all of the biomes. As we all know, the entire surface of the planet has some lifeform, but it varies depending on factors like vegetation, climate, water, and light.


 A biome is classified by the flora and fauna (dominant plants and animal life) that resides in that particular area; the plants and animals that live in a biome are also known as biota. While some biomes share some characteristics, each type is unique, and the smaller units in a biome are what we know best as a habitat.


Biomes are often mistakenly referred to as ecosystems (and vice versa). An ecosystem is made up of living organisms and the relationship that they have in their nonliving environment. There are many examples of ecosystems but think about a dark cave in a secluded part of the world and all of the known (and unknown) living things that live in the cave.


One of the reasons why ecosystems may be easily confused with biomes is that a biome may have many different ecosystems.

Exploring The Different Types Of Biomes

If you look at a biome map, you will notice that it is color-coded with a key that refers to different types of biomes. Depending on what map you look at and who is teaching you about biomes, you may only learn about five biomes, which include tundra, grassland, forest, desert, and aquatic; sometimes it’s six basic biomes be splitting the aquatic into marine and freshwater.


As you might guess, these biomes are basic, have a broad definition, and may refer to many parts of the globe. In order to gain a better understanding of Biology as a whole, you may want to consider learning more about other biomes like the rainforest, temperate forest, chaparral, taiga, savanna, temperate grasslands, and freshwater or marine.


Younger learners or individuals who just want some basic information on biomes may benefit from learning about the broad classifications, but taking the time to learn about other biomes (and their specialized classifications) can help understand the world as a whole.


As you explore biomes, it’s not uncommon to see different biomes in the same area, and often there are no clear boundaries from one biome to the next. If you were to compare a map of biomes from thousands of years ago to today, you’d see a completely different map.


Climate change plays a significant role in how biomes are defined and where they are located on a map. The major biomes typically correspond to the climatic zones, such as a tropical wet climate.

Tundra

Man and dogs in snow
As you might already imagine, the tundra biome is located in the northernmost regions on a map of biomes. A tundra is flat, cold, but still has plant life during the short growing season. A variety of birds call the tundra their home during the summer and migrate in the winter. Smaller mammals thrive in their habitats under the snow.

Grassland

grassland
The grassland biome is often referred to as plains or prairie, due to the large areas of a variety of grasses. Grasslands typically receive minimal rain and are often at high risk for fires. Even though there is not a large variety of flora, the biome is home to large herding mammals. Grassland is found on every continent except for Antarctica.

Forests

forest with rocks
The forest biome makes up about one-third of the Earth’s land area, and as you might imagine, there are more classifications to the forest biome than “just trees.” 


The tropical rainforest has two seasons, 12-hour days, and has little variation in the climate. You’re most likely to find tropical rainforest countries near the equator like South America, Southeast Asia, and Southern Africa.
forests with sunrays
A temperate forest biome is most frequently found in eastern parts of North America, northeastern Asian, and western and central parts of Europe. Animals from small mammals (squirrels) to predators (black bears) call the biome their home. 


The boreal or taiga forest is similar to the temperate forest biome and is found in Siberia, Scandinavia, Alaska, and Canada. The taiga forest biome doesn’t have as long of growing seasons as the temperate forest, and the climate is cold and dry.

Deserts

desert with camels
It’s not uncommon to see all types of desert biomes lumped into one broad desert biome and again, depending on the map you’re looking at or who is teaching information about biomes, the classifications may be different. 


Some people break down the desert biome even further to include hot and dry, semiarid, coastal and cold. If you live in the U.S., you may be most familiar with a hot and dry desert biome, as it includes four of the major deserts in North America. The seasons are very dry and warm year round.
desert
Semiarid desert biomes may be found in parts of the U.S., but are also found in Newfoundland, Greenland, Europe, and parts of Asia. There are more flora and fauna in semiarid biomes than the hot and dry.


The coastal desert biome sees moderate rainfall and the cold desert biome experiences heavy snowfall; both have plants and animals that have adapted to the environment (much like every other biome on the map)

Aquatic

sea turtle underwater
When exploring a map of biomes, it’s important not to overlook the aquatic biome. While many people pay close attention to flora and fauna throughout the various biomes “on land,” there’s plenty to consider when we look at the bodies of water.


The aquatic biome is typically divided into freshwater and saltwater (or marine) biomes. From there it might be broken down even more to ponds or lakes, rivers, oceans, and estuaries.
sting ray underwater
It’s essential to think about aquatic biomes because just like other biomes, climate change and other environmental factors affect these “off land” biomes, which over time will change the layout of a map of biomes.

Why Are Biome Maps Important?

world biomes map
Image Source: askabiologist.asu.edu
Now that you have a better understanding of the different biomes and how one map could be different from another, you might be wondering why biome maps are so important. As we mentioned earlier, learning about biomes and understanding where they are in the world can help us understand all living organisms. 


Biome maps can help people learn about places they may never get to see; the map may open their eyes to a new species of animal or a unique variety of flora. Biome maps may be a basic resource for understanding Biology, but without the maps, we know very little about Biology, it’s past, and what might be in store for the future of our planet.


Even though we may not see drastic changes to our environment in our lifetime, we can see small scales changes such as more prairie fires or decreasing populations of a specific bird.


To some, these may not seem like that big of a deal when comparing it to the world at large, but it can give us some idea as to how biome maps will continue to evolve.

Making The Most Of A Biome Map

Not only are biome maps an important resource to use in a Biology course, but it can be used in a variety of fields such as Agriculture. The United States Department of Agriculture can utilize the map to learn more about soil distribution while conservation programs can strive to protect biomes that need it the most.

If your goal is to learn how to draw a map of biomes or memorize it for a class, you might want to consider the following tips.

  • Familiarize yourself with Geography; you can’t make a map without knowing where places are located.
  • Use the knowledge you already have. Think about living organisms and where they live. Can you guess what type of biome (or biomes) are in this area?
  • Get to know a climatic map. Remember climatic zones may correspond with specific biomes.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Make several copies of a blank world map.
  • Use a color-code and key that’s easy to read. Choose colors that stand out from one another.

Dimensional Analysis: Definition, Examples, And Practice

If you’ve heard the term “dimensional analysis,” you might find it a bit overwhelming. While there’s a lot to “unpack” when learning about dimensional analysis, it’s a lot easier than you might think. Learn more about the basics and a few examples of how to utilize the unique method of conversion.

Dimensional Analysis: Definition, Examples, and Practice

two people talking

As a student of Biology or any of the sciences, you will have to use math of some kind, and there’s a good chance that you will find dimensional analysis (or unit analysis) to be helpful. Math equations and other conversions can be overwhelming for some, but dimensional analysis doesn’t have to be; once you learn it, it’s relatively easy to use and understand.

We’ll give you the basics and give you some easy-to-understand examples that you might find on a dimensional analysis worksheet so that you can have a general understanding about what it is and how to use the technique in all types of applications as you continue to take science courses.

What Is Dimensional Analysis?

bulb in a thought bubble

As we mentioned, you may hear dimensional analysis referred to as unit analysis; it is often also known as factor-label method or the unit factor method. A formal definition of dimensional analysis refers to a method of analysis “in which physical quantities are expressed in terms of their fundamental dimensions that is often used.”

Most people might agree that this definition needs to be broken down a bit and simplified. It might be easier to understand this method of analysis if we look at it as a method of solving problems by looking converting one thing to another.

While dimensional analysis may seem like just another equation, one of the unique (and important) parts of the equation is that the unit of measurement always plays a role in the equation (not just the numbers).

We use conversions in everyday life (such as when following a recipe) and in math class or in a biology course. When we think about dimensional analysis, we’re looking at units of measurement, and this could be anything from miles per gallon or pieces of pie per person.

Many people may “freeze up” when they see a dimensional analysis worksheet or hear about it in class, but if you’re struggling with some of the concepts, just remember that it’s about units of measurements and conversion. Dimensional analysis is used in a variety of applications and is frequently used by chemists and other scientists.

The Conversion Factor in Dimensional Analysis

bottles on a table with man writing on a paper

One important thing to consider when using dimensional analysis is the conversion factor. A conversion factor, which is always equal to 1, is a fraction or numerical ratio that can help you express the measurement from one unit to the next.

When using a conversion factor, the values must represent the same quantity. For example, one yard is the same as three feet or seven days is the same as one week. Let’s do a quick example of a conversion factor.

Imagine you have 20 ink pens and you multiply that by 1; you still have the same amount of pens. You might want to find out how many packages of pens that 20 pens equal and to figure this out, you need your conversion factor.

pens in a jar

 Now, imagine that you found the packaging for a set of ink pens and the label says that there are 10 pens to each package. Your conversion factor ends up being your conversion factor. The equation might look something like this:

20 ink pens x 1 package of pens/10 pens = 2 packages of ink pens. We’ve canceled out the pens (as a unit) and ended up with the package of pens.

While this is a basic scenario, and you probably wouldn’t need to use a conversion factor to figure out how many pens you have, it gives you an idea of what it does and how it works. As you can see, conversion factors work a lot like fractions (working with numerators and denominators)

Even though you’re more likely to work with more complex units of measurement while in chemistry, physics, or other science and math courses, you should have a better understanding of using the conversion factor in relation to the units of measurement.

Steps For Working Through A Problem Using Dimensional Analysis

man and woman discussing business

Like many things, practice makes perfect and dimensional analysis is no exception. Before you tackle a dimensional analysis that your instructor hands to you, here are some tips to consider before you get started.

  • Read the problem carefully and take your time
  • Find out what unit should be your answer
  • Write down your problem in a way that you can understand
  • Consider a simple math equation and don’t forget the conversion factors
  • Remember, some of the units should cancel out, resulting in the unit you want
  • Double-check and retry if you have to
  • The answer you come up with should make sense to you

To help you understand the basic steps we are using an easy problem that you could probably figure out fairly quickly. The question is: How many seconds are in a day?

clock on a wall

 First, you need to read the question and determine the unit you want to end up with; in this case, you want to figure out “seconds in a day.” To turn this word problem into a math equation, you might decide to put seconds/day or sec/day.

The next step is to figure out what you already know. You know that there are 60 seconds to one minute and you also know that there are 24 hours in one day; all of these units work together, and you should be able to come up with your final unit of measurement. Again, it’s best to write down everything you know into an equation.

After you’ve done a little math, your starting factor might end up being 60 seconds/1 minute. Next, you will need to work your way into figuring out how many seconds per hour. This equation will be 60 seconds/1 minute x 60 minutes/1 hour. The minutes cancel themselves out, and you have seconds per hour.

Remember, you want to find out seconds per day so you’ll need to add another factor that will cancel out the hours. The equation should be 60 seconds/1 minute x 60 minutes/1 hour x 24 hours/1 day. All units but seconds per day should cancel out and if you’ve done your math correctly 86,400 seconds/1 day.

When doing a dimensional analysis problem, it’s more important to pay attention to the units and make sure you are canceling out the right ones to get the final product. Doing your math correctly important, but it’s easier to double-check than trying to backtrack and figure out how you ended up with the wrong unit.

Our example is relatively simple, and you probably had no problem getting the right answer or using the right units. As you work through your science courses, you will be faced with more difficult units to understand. While dimensional analysis will undoubtedly be more challenging, just keep your eye on the units, and you should be able to get through a problem just fine.

Why Use Dimensional Analysis?

hand pointing on boxes on a diagram

As we’ve demonstrated, dimensional analysis can help you figure out problems that you may encounter in your everyday. While you’re likely to explore dimensional analysis a bit more as you take science courses, it can be particularly helpful for Biology students to learn more.

Some believe that dimensional analysis can help students in Biology have a “better feel for numbers” and help them transition more easily into courses like Organic Chemistry or even Physics (if you haven’t taken those courses yet).

Can you figure out a math equation or a word problem without dimensional analysis? Of course, and many people have their own ways of working through a problem. If you do it correctly, dimensional analysis can actually help you answer a problem more efficiently and accurately.

Ready To Test Your Dimensional Analysis Skills?

If you want to practice dimensional analysis, there are dozens of online dimensional analysis worksheets. While many of them are pretty basic or geared towards specific fields of study like Chemistry, we found a worksheet that has an interesting variety. Test out what we’ve talked about and check your answers when you’re done.

  • How many minutes are in 1 year?
  • Traveling at 65 miles/hour, how many minutes will it take to drive 125 miles to San Diego?
  • Convert 4.65 km to meters
  • Convert 9,474 mm to centimeters
  • Traveling at 65 miles/hour, how many feet can you travel in 22 minutes? (1 mile = 5280 feet)

Ready to check out your answers and see more questions? Click here.