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biomes vocab - biology

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biosphere
the areas of air, land and water where life exists on earth
biome
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
climate
the temperature and amount of precipitation determine this
permafrost
the permanently frozen soil in the tundra that begins about 12 inches below the surface
conifers
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
canopy
the tallest layer of trees in a forest. these are the mature trees that receive the most sunlight
understory
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
litter
the dead material on the floor of the forest. it replenishes the nutrients in the soil as it decomposes
emergents
the trees in a forest that tower above the canopy
epiphytes
plants that grow on other plants
buttressing
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
succulents
plants that store water in their stems and leaves
dormancy
a long period of inactivity inside a seed. when the conditions improve the seed will come out of dormancy and sprout
nocturnal
when an animal is only active at night. this protects the animal from dehydrating during the day.
keratin
a waterproof chemical that covers the surface of the skin. it protects an animal from dehyrdating
desertification
the gradual change of a biome into a desert. this is often a result off human activities
timberline
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
nekton
the free swimming animals in the sublittoral zone
benthos
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
phytoplankton
aquatic, single celled photosynthetic organisms that forms the basis of the food chain
zooplankton
aquatic, single celled organisms that can not perform photosynthesis. they are heterotrophic
turbidity
a measure of how unclear water is. this prevents light from penetrating
estuary
the region where a river empties into the ocean