Biosphere and Biomes

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Biosphere and Biomes

Transcript Of Biosphere and Biomes


20 AUGUST 2014

Lesson Description
In this lesson we:  Discuss the following: o The concept of the biosphere o The interconnectedness with and components of the global ecosystem: lithosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere o The terrestrial and aquatic biomes of Southern Africa

The Biosphere
 The part of the planet that supports life e.g. atmosphere(air), lithosphere (land) and hydrosphere(water)
 The atmosphere is the body of air which surrounds our planet. Most of our atmosphere is located close to the earth's surface where it is most dense. The air of our planet is 79% nitrogen and just under 21% oxygen; the small amount remaining is composed of carbon dioxide and other gasses.

The lithosphere is the solid, rocky crust covering entire planet. This crust is inorganic and is composed of minerals. It covers the entire surface of the earth.
 This is where terrestrial organisms live

 The hydrosphere is composed of all of the water on or near the earth. This includes the oceans, rivers, lakes, and even the moisture in the air. Ninety-seven percent of the earth's water is in the oceans. The remaining three percent is fresh water; three-quarters of the fresh water is solid and exists in ice sheets
 Aquatic organisms depend on the hydrosphere for life

Interconnections of the Spheres
 The lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere form the biosphere.  The soil, water and air support life on earth.  Life on earth is linked in each of the three spheres.  All four spheres can be and often are present in a single location. For example, a piece of soil
will of course have mineral material from the lithosphere. Additionally, there will be elements of the hydrosphere present as moisture within the soil, the biosphere as insects and plants, and even the atmosphere as pockets of air between soil pieces.
 There are two components to the biosphere o A biotic or living component – animals, plants microorganisms etc. o An abiotic or non-living component – water air temperature, soil etc. o The biotic and abiotic factors of the biosphere form the global ecosystem
 Living organisms are not evenly distributed throughout the biosphere.  Scientists have divided the earth into regions according to their climate, soil, plants and
animals that live their – these regions are called biomes  Biomes are sub-divided into ecosystems.  Ecosystems are communities of organisms that interact in a particular environment.  An organism lives in a certain place where it gets its food, space and where it reproduces – this is called its habitat  Scientists divide biomes into :
o Terrestrial biomes that occur on land – grasslands, savannah, fynbos
o Aquatic biomes - marine, wetlands, coastal

South African Biomes – Terrestrial




• Savannas are the wooded grasslands of the tropics and subtropics that account for 46% of the South African landscape.
• Stretches from the Kalahari in the west into the north and north-east of Limpopo
• Rainfall2oo-1000mm • Summers hot and wet • Winter cool and dry • Soil fertile • Vegetation: Grasses, thorn tress, large shrubs,
trees (marula, baobab) • Animals:‘Big 5” blue wildebeest, eland, hippo,
kudu, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, wild dogs
• The grasslands cover the high central plateau of South Africa, inland areas of Kwazulu-Natal and the mountain areas of the Eastern Cape Province
• Variety – rainfall varies, thunderstorms and hailstorms
• Winters cold with or without frost, fires common
• Summer – hot and wet • Soil type- fertile • Plants - Grasses (rooigras) • Animals - Blesbok, black wildebeest, springbok

Nama-Karoo Succulent Karoo Fynbos

• The Nama-Karoo covers most of the vast central plateau region of the Western and Northern Cape Provinces.
• Semi-desert – flat and rugged • Ground dry and rocky • No permanently flowing rivers (no rain) • Rainfall less than 500mm • Summer high temp • Winter freezing cold • Soil – rich in lime, thin layer of soil over rock,
infertile • Plants – xerophytes, low bushes, grass and
shrubs - Stone plant, sweet thorn, Karoo daisy • Animals - black-eared jackal, leopard, baboon,
vervet monkey, tawny eagle • This biome occurs mostly west of the western
escarpment through the western belt of the Western Cape and inland towards the Little Karoo. • The succulent Karoo is restricted to the yearround and winter rainfall areas and have the greatest summer aridity • Rainfall - dry, 50mm-350mm rainfall • Summers – hot and dry • Soil – rich in lime, infertile and erodes easily • Plants – xerophytic, Namaqualand daisies, succulents, lichens • Animals – small rodents- mice squirrels, Bateared fox, suricate, barking gecko
• Fynbos occupies 5,3 % of South Africa, occurring almost exclusively in the southwestern and southern parts of the Western Cape Province.
• Winters cold and wet – 210-3000mm • Summers hot and dry • Soil – infertile soil that is leached of all its
nutrients – inhibits growth of larger plants • 68% of plants endemic to the fynbos biome • One of the six floral kingdoms in the world • Fires common in summer – needed to stimulate
germination • Plants- Proteas, shrubs and trees, rooibos tea,
buchu, olives, table wine, thatching reed • Animals - Klipspringer, Cape mountain zebra,
leopard, geometric tortoise, baboons, porcupines, lynxes , Cape sugar bird

Forests Thickets

• Smallest biome. Mountainous forests along the Southern Cape coastline – Knysna and Tsitsikamma
• Rainfall – throughout year, mainly winter • Forests cool and moist, humid • Soil deep and fertile • Plants - Outeniqua Yellowwood, epiphytes,
herbaceous and bulbous plants • Animals - Blue duiker, bush-pig, Knysna Lourie
and woodpecker , paradise flycatcher
• Along the coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal and Eastern Cape
• Rainfall fairly high but not sustainable for forests
• Soil – shallow and varies from sandy loam to sandy clay that is rich in lime
• Plants – varies, shrubland to low forests, evergreen and succulent trees and shrubs, plants have thorns. Short trees, spekboom, Cape honeysuckle, Plumbago
• Animals - Elephants, antelopes, monkeys, squirrels, bushbuck , African python

South African Biomes – Aquatic
Marine and Coastal Biomes
 Include – oceans, coral reefs and estuaries  Biomes include salty water.  Algae live in the water and produce oxygen and food  South African marine biome contains 12% of the worlds fish species. Our coastline is 3000km
long  Water on the east coast is warm because of the warm Indian current and the water on the west
coast is cold because of the Benguela current.  The west coast water are rich in nutrients which provides food for plankton and fish
 Plankton- phytoplankton (algae), zooplankton (microscopic crustaceans) – fish and large fish – sharks, dolphins, whales – animals living on the bottom – crabs, oysters, sponges, lobster etc.
 Concentration of nutrients
Coral Reefs
 Shallow waters off the northern coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal
 Coral reefs are formed from calcium carbonate of tiny corral animals
 Large biodiversity  Animals – micro-organisms, invertebrates, fish,
sea urchins, sea-stars, octopusi
Open Sea Zone
 Open ocean  Temperature is generally cold  Plankton main food provider for fish, dolphins and

 Area of land which is covered predominately by shallow water.  Include mountain springs, marshlands, flood plains, estuaries to swamp forests that are linked by
river and streams.  Rich in biodiversity-
o Birds o Large amount of carbon o These wetlands share common and
important functions in river catchments by providing a regular water supply, by filtering the water naturally o By reducing the effects of floods and droughts.
 Are areas where freshwater of streams or rivers meet with the salt water of the sea
 Water conditions, temperature and salt content, change constantly with the tides
 Rich in nutrients  Plants – algae, seaweed, marsh grass and
mangroves  Animal – prawns, sponges, mussels, barnacles,

Test Yourself

Question 1

In the ecosystem of a tropical rainforest, the producers obtain energy from the:






rotting leaves



Question 2

Which set of words correctly shows the organisation of living things from the largest to the smallest?


species → biosphere → community


biosphere → community → species


individual → biosphere → community


species → individual → community

Question 3

The boundaries between biomes are usually seen as


gradual transition zones


abrupt changes in vegetation, but not of animals


abrupt changes in both vegetation and animals


distinct geographic barriers such as mountains and rivers


abrupt changes in animals, but not of vegetation

Question 4

Organisms that use inorganic nutrients and an outside energy source to produce sugars and other organic nutrients for themselves and other members of the community are










both a and b

Question 5

Light is regarded as an abiotic factor because it is


necessary for life.


not continuous.




contains energy.



Question 6

A population is made up of








Different species

Improve your Skills
Question 1
Study the map below where South Africa’s terrestrial biomes are indicated with the letters A to G and answer the questions that follow



Define the term biome


Name the TWO main types of biomes


Identify the biomes A-G.


Which biome is a main tourist attraction during spring, when the whole area is covered with



Which biome includes one of the world’s richest floral kingdoms?


Which biome attracts tourists to its many game farms?


Which biome is the largest?


Which biome will you find the following plant species?

a) Vygies, quiver trees

b) Yellowwood and stinkwood

c) Mopani and baobab

d) Proteas, ericas and reeds

Question 2
The gemsbok is a large herbivore that lives in herds in desert areas of South Africa. Gemsbok feed on plants that are adapted to living in dry conditions. There are not many rivers, lakes or ponds that provide drinking water for the animals. The desert areas are hot during the day but cool at night. As the air cools at night it becomes moist, and the plants absorb the moisture.
2.1 A few lions live in the desert areas. They hunt and feed on the gemsboks. Use the information from the drawing of the gemsbok to suggest two ways in which it could avoid being killed by lions.
The graphs show the water content of the grass and the times of day that the gemsbok feed.

2.2 Describe how the water content of the grass changes during the day.


2.2 Suggest why the water content of the grass changes.


2.3 Between which times of the day are more than 25% of the herd feeding?


2.4 Suggest an advantage to the gemsbok of feeding mainly at these times.


Question 3
Use the map below to help answer the questions that follow:


Name the two types of forest found in South Africa. Describe the soil and climatic conditions

of these biomes.


What influence could the cold Benguela current on the west coast of South Africa have on

the vegetation?


In what way is the fynbos region not suitable to the growth of plants?


Why is fire important for the fynbos vegetation?


What is the difference between the vegetation of the grasslands and savannah?


Describe the effect elephants will have on the savannah during times of drought.


How are plants adapted to survive the harsh Karoo regions?


How are animals adapted to withstand the extreme high temperature conditions in the



What is the importance of fog from the Atlantic ocean in the succulent karoo


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