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barrier islands

low, narrow, sandy islands that form offshore from a coastline.


The bottom of a sea or lake


a broad, regional type of ecosystem characterized by distinctive climate and soil conditions and a distinctive kind of biological community adapted to those conditions.


an area of waterlogged soil that tends to be peaty; fed mainly by precipitation; low productivity; some bogs are acidic.

boreal forest

A broad band of mixed coniferous and deciduous trees that stretches across northern North America (and also Europe and Asia); its northernmost edfe, the taiga, intergrades with the artic tundra


Thick, dense, thorny evergreen shrub found in Mediterranean climates

cloud forest

High mountain forests where temperatures are uniformly cool and fog or mist keeps vegetation wet all the time


Needle-bearing tree that produce seeds in cones

coral reefs

Prominent oceanic features composed of hard, limy skeletons produced by coral animals; usually formed along edges of shallow, submerged ocean banks or along shelves in warm, shallow, tropical seas


Trees and shrubs that shed their leaves at the end of the growing season


a type of biome characterized by low moisture levels and infrequent and unpredictable precipitation. Daily and seasonal temperatures fluctuate widely.


a bay or drowned valley where a river empties into the sea


areas of waterlogged soil that tend to be peaty; fed mainly by upwelling water; low productivity


A biome dominated by grasses and associated herbaceous plants


Trees from a number of genera that live in salt water


wetlands without trees; in North America, this type of land is characterized by cattails and rushes


Zones in the vertical water column of a water body


Microscopic, free-floating, autotrophic organisms that function as producers in aquatic ecosystems


Consist of colonies of minute, colonial animals that live symbiotically with photosynthetic algae

southern pine forests

United States coniferous forest ecosystem characterized by a warm, moist climate


wetland with trees, such as the extensive swamp forests of the southern U.S.


The northernmost edge of the boreal forest, including species-poor woodland and peat deposits; intergrading with the arctic tundra

temperate rainforest

The cool, dense, rainy forests of the northern Pacific coast; enshrouded in fog much of the time; dominated by large conifers


In water, a distinctive temperature transition zone that separates an upper layer that is mixed by wind (the epilimnion) and a colder, deep layer that is not mixed (the hypolimnion)

thorn scrub

a dry, semi-desert dominated by acacias and other spiny shrubs

tropical rainforest

Forests in which rainfall is abundant - more that 200 cm (80 in) per year - and temperatures are warm or hot year-round

tropical seasonal forests

semievergreen or partly deciduous forests tending toward open woodlands and grassy savannas dotted with scattered, drought-resistant tree species; distinct wet and dry seasons, hot year-round


Treeless arctic or alpine biome characterized by cold, harsh winters, a short growing season, and potential for frost any month of the year; vegetation includes low-growing perennial plants, mosses and lichens


Ecosystems of several types in which vegetation is surrounded by stand water during part of the year

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