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the areas of air, land and water where life exists on earth


a region of the biosphere that has a specific climate and certain types of plants and animals

abiotic factors

the nonliving characteristics of a biome


the temperature and amount of precipitation determine this


the permanently frozen soil in the tundra that begins about 12 inches below the surface


a type of plant that produces seeds inside cones. these plants are well adapted for living in the taiga

deciduous plants

plants that lose their leaves during the winter

vertical stratification

the various layers of plants found in a forest


the tallest layer of trees in a forest. these are the mature trees that receive the most sunlight


the immature trees in a forest. they grow slowly because they receive less sunlight

shrub layer

the bushes and shrubs in a forest. their density determines if the forest is called a "jungle"

herb layer

the grasses, ferns and moss that grows on the floor of the forest


the dead material on the floor of the forest. it replenishes the nutrients in the soil as it decomposes


the trees in a forest that tower above the canopy


plants that grow on other plants


the widening of a tree's trunk that serves to stabilize the tree and keep it upright. this occurs when a tree's roots do not extend down deep enough to stabilize the tree


plants that store water in their stems and leaves


a long period of inactivity inside a seed. when the conditions improve the seed will come out of dormancy and sprout


when an animal is only active at night. this protects the animal from dehydrating during the day.


a waterproof chemical that covers the surface of the skin. it protects an animal from dehyrdating


the gradual change of a biome into a desert. this is often a result off human activities


the region on a mountain above which trees will not grow. this region resembles a tundra

nutrient upswellings

a region where deep, nutrient rich water is brought to the surface by offshore winds

littoral zone

this region along the shoreline is under water during high tide and out of the water during low tide. this zone is commonly called beach

sublittoral zone

this region extends from the littoral zone to the edge of the continental shelf


the free swimming animals in the sublittoral zone


the animals that live on the bottom of the sublittoral zone

pelagic zone

the region beyond the continental shelf

photic zone

the upper region of the pelagic zone through which light penetrates

bathyal zone

the middle region of the pelagic zone where no light penetrates

abyssal zone

the lowest region of the pelagic zone characterized by very cold temperature and high pressure


aquatic, single celled photosynthetic organisms that forms the basis of the food chain


aquatic, single celled organisms that can not perform photosynthesis. they are heterotrophic


a measure of how unclear water is. this prevents light from penetrating


the region where a river empties into the ocean

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