Battle for the Biosphere


Distribution of the Biomes

Coniferous biome Coniferous forests are at higher latitudes where the Sun's rays are weak. Trees are adapted to the cold experienced here with needle-like leaves
Deciduous biome Deciduous forests have high rainfall and there are seasonal variations in the Sun's rays. Trees lose their leaves in the cool winters.
Tundra biome The tundra is within the Arctic Circle. This area receives little heat from the sun and there is little rainfall. Only tough, short grasses survive here.
Tropical biome Tropical rainforests are normally found near the equator. The temperature is hot and there is a lot of heavy rainfall.
Desert biome Deserts are close the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. This is where hot dry air sinks down to the Earth's surface and the Sun's rays are concentrated making it very hot during the day.

A Life-Support System

The Earth's life support system is the biosphere which we live in. It provides us humans with a wide range of essential goods.

What the biosphere does for us...

Goods provided by the biosphere




Plants used to make medicines. E.g.: quinine from bark, St John's wort, periwinkle

Raw Materials

Oil and gas store carbon

Due to the large populations our Earth has, the pressure to feed these people has meant that natural vegetation has been replaced with farmland to grow crops. Very few communities survive solely from food the biosphere would naturally produce.

Threats to the Biosphere

Degradation of the biosphere by human activity

Direct human impacts Indirect human impacts
Pollution and climate change causing:
Deforestation sea temperature rise
Mining seawater acidification
Quarrying melting of polar ice caps
Farming changes in amounts of rainfall
Overfishing treeline changes
stress within ecosystems due to rapid change.

Reasons for rainforest destruction

Management of the biosphere

In order to conserve the biosphere and to encourage sustainable usage of the biosphere, different management methods have been set up.

Ramsar (named after city in Iran) Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve, Ecuador National Parks, UK
Scale global - 168 countries have signed up to it local national
Started 1971 1951
What it conserves 2.05 million km2 of wetlands around the world 500 acres of tropical rainforest areas of natural beauty in the UK - 22,000km2 in 15 parks.
Why Wetlands provide a rich biodiversity with many rare species almost untouched rainforest, home to large numbers of animals and plants important for people's leisure, enjoyment and culture and to preserve wildlife and environment
How it is threatened population growth means wetlands are drained for farmland, also vulnerable to climate change clearance for soya production any development that would degrade the ecosystem, e.g.: mining
Management type international treaty protects important wetlands by law. owner of the land has agreed a conservation deal, volunteers care for the land, run reforestation schemes and sustainable tourism to raise funds. each park has its own authority controlling any new development.

Factors affecting biomes

There are local factors which can affect biomes. These are...

Rock and soil type this can affect how fertile different areas within a biome
Altitude Different plants grow at different temperatures and may not survive if they are not in the right conditions. The higher the altitude, the colder it gets.
Rainfall different types of plants and the amount of plants will only grow with a certain amount of rainfall. Inland areas are generally drier than coastal areas.
Distance from the sea this can affect temperatures and especially amounts of rainfall within the same biome.
Drainage swamps and bogs occur where drainage is poor. Fewer, more specialist plants grow in boggy areas.

Biosphere management tensions

Sustainable biosphere management

Possible tensions