From lush, bountiful tropical rainforests to cold, fragile ice floes, animals have colonized every biome on the planet. Biomes are regions all over Earth that are defined by shared climates and geography and by the characteristics of resident plants and animals as a result of climate and geography.
For example: On the east coast of the United States, temperate deciduous forests are the predominate terrestrial biome. In these forests, oaks, maples, and beeches are among the most common trees. These trees shed their leaves every fall--an important adaptation that conserves water during the winter--and regrow them every spring. The evolution of these trees (and, thus, the characteristics of the biome) is influenced by the eastern U.S.'s mild climate and changing seasons.
Each biome consists of, at least, one ecosystem. In fact, biomes can be considered very large ecosystems, and the terms "biome" and "ecosystem" are often used interchangeably. Ecosystems, however, are not limited to the broad and all-encompassing nature of biomes. An ecosystem can be as small as a backyard pond or an old oak tree. Unlike biomes, ecosystems are defined by a community of organisms interwoven into a food chain or food web.
In the majority of ecosystems, a food chain/web consists of producers (like plants) that produce food , consumers (like animals) that consume the producers and/or other consumers , and decomposers (like fungi) that feed on dead or decaying matter. These relationships are, ultimately, powered by the sun and, as a result, by photosynthesis.
Yet, sunlight is, by no means, required for a successful ecosystem. Thousands of feet beneath the ocean's surface, where no light can possibly shine, hydrothermal vents support multitudes of organisms. Rather than plants and photosynthesis, these ecosystems are supported by bacteria and chemosynthesis.
Choose your biome: