Copyright

What is a Terrestrial Ecosystem? - Definition, Examples & Types

  • 0:02 Definition
  • 0:32 Types & Examples
  • 3:44 Lesson Summary
Create An Account
To Start This Course Today
Used by over 10 million students worldwide
Create An Account
Try it free for 5 days
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

There are a variety of different ecosystems all over the world. In this lesson, we will examine terrestrial ecosystems. This will allow us to gain an understanding of the living and non-living factors that makeup these dynamic ecosystems.

Definition of Terrestrial Ecosystems

An ecosystem is a collection of communities of both living and non-living things that are interrelated. While many ecosystems exist on land and in the waters of the world, terrestrial ecosystems are those that are found only on land. The biotic, or living things found in an ecosystem, include various life forms, such as plants and animals. The abiotic, or non-living things found in an ecosystem, include the various land-forms and the climate.

Types and Examples of Terrestrial Ecosystems

While there have been many classification schemes developed over time, it is now generally accepted that there are six types of terrestrial ecosystems. These include taiga, tundra, deciduous forest, grasslands, tropical rain forests, and deserts.

Taigas are cold-climate forests found in the northern latitudes. Taigas are the world's largest terrestrial ecosystem and account for about 29% of the Earth's forests. The largest taiga ecosystems are found in Canada and Russia. Taigas are known for their sub-arctic climate with extremely cold winters and mild summers. They primarily consist of coniferous trees, such as pines, although there are some other deciduous trees, such as spruce and elm, that have adapted to live in these areas that receive little direct sunlight for much of the year. Taigas are home to large herbivores, such as moose, elk, and bison, as well as omnivores, such as bears.

The tundra ecosystems of the world are found primarily north of the Arctic Circle. They consist of short vegetation and essentially no trees. The soil is frozen and covered with permafrost for a large portion of the year. Caribou, polar bears, and musk ox are some of the notable species who call the tundra home.

Deciduous forest ecosystems make up the eastern half of North America and a large portion of Europe. They typically have an average yearly temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and they average about 30-60 inches of rain per year. These forests are inhabited by a variety of wildlife, including deer, bear, foxes, as well as numerous species of trees, shrubs, and flowers. If you live in or have ever traveled to the eastern United States, you have been to a deciduous forest.

Grasslands are also known as plains and prairies. If you imagine the 'Wild West' with tumbleweeds blowing across the plains and large herds of deer and buffalo, such as the prairies of Nebraska, then you are imagining the grasslands. These ecosystems are characterized by 20-35 inches of rain per year and a predominant covering of various species of grasses. They are also known for their very rich soil.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member

Already a member? Log In

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 100 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,900 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

1
You just finished your first lesson. Study.com has thousands of lessons to help you meet your educational goals.
5
You're making great progress. Keep it up!
10
Congrats on viewing 10 lessons! You're doing great.
Keep clicking that 'next lesson' button whenever you finish a lesson and its quiz. Got It
You now have full access to our lessons and courses. Watch the lesson now or keep exploring. Got It
You're 25% of the way through this course! Keep going at this rate and you'll be done before you know it.
Two days in a row, nice! Keep your streak going to get the most of your learning and reach your goal faster.