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Most of it is too cold and dry to support vegetation. In some portions of Antarctica, there are areas of rocky soil that support plant life. The flora presently consists of around lichens, mosses, 25 liverworts, and around terrestrial and aquatic algae species, which live on the areas of exposed rock and soil around the shore of the continent.

Antarctica s two flowering plant species, the Antarctic hair grass Deschampsia antarctica and Antarctic pearlwort Colobanthus quitensis are found on the northern and western parts of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The major difference between Arctic Tundra and Antarctic Tundra is that Antarctic Tundra lacks a large mammal fauna, while in Arctic Tundra we find an array of mammals as mentioned above.

The reason is that Antarctica is physically isolated from other continents. However, the shores are inhabited by Sea mammals and sea birds, including seals and penguins. Further, some small mammals, like rabbits and cats, have been introduced by humans to some of the subantarctic islands. Taiga Biome Taiga is also known as Boreal Forest.

Largest areas under Taiga are located in Russia and Canada. Please note that there is no Taiga on Southern hemisphere.

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Key Features of Taiga Biome Taiga accounts for lowest annual average temperatures after the tundra and permanent ice caps. Here we note that the extreme minimums temperatures of Taiga are typically lower than those of the tundra. In winter, there are long periods of frozen Ice on Polar Tundra, yet the nearby Arctic Ocean contains enough heat to tweak the temperature a little bit. This is the reason that lowest reliably recorded temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were recorded in the taiga of north-eastern Russia.

The soil in Taiga is young with little development and profile. This is mainly because of the fact that cold hinders the development of soil. The taiga soil is also poor in nutrients.

Soil Features in Taiga Biome The Taiga soil is poor in nutrients in comparison to the temperate deciduous forests. This is because the fallen leaves and moss can remain on the forest floor, without decomposing for a long time in the cool, moist climate. This would result in poor organic contribution to the soil. Further, the Taiga soil is acidic due to the falling pine needles. Since the soil is acidic, the acidity aids in the decomposition of the mineral components and the minerals are washed away in the lower horizons.

This causes infertility of the soil. The leaching of the nutrients, along with the permeability of the soil gives Taiga a light colored eluvial soil horizon leached of most base forming cations such as Calcium. Since the soil is acidic due to the falling pine needles, the forest floor has only lichens and some moss growing on it.

However, diversity of soil organisms in the boreal forest southern Taiga is high, comparable to the tropical rainforest. The Taiga soils are dominated by the microscopic fungi. These microscopic fungi play an important role in the decomposition of the dead phytomass. So, the above mentioned infertility is compensated by the activity of the microorganisms in the upper soil horizons. Both of them were connected by the kilometres wide Bering land bridge at various times during the Pleistocene ice ages in the Geological history.

It connected Alaska to Siberia. So, due to this reason, a number of animal and plant species were able to colonize both continents and are distributed throughout the taiga biome that spreads in both of them like Tundra. The forests of the taiga are largely coniferous, dominated by larch, spruce, fir, and pine. There are also some small-leaved deciduous trees like birch, alder, willow, and poplar; mostly in areas escaping the most extreme winter cold. Southernmost parts of the taiga has trees such as oak, maple, elm, and tilia scattered among the conifers, and there is usually a gradual transition into a temperate mixed forest.

The Southern Taiga is a closed canopy forest consisting closely spaced trees with mossy ground cover. It also has shrubs and wildflowers such as the fireweed. Wherever the trees are located at a father space, land is covered by lichens and mosses.

These lichens and mosses are more common in the northernmost taiga. In northernmost taiga the forest cover is not only more sparse, but often stunted in growth. The trees are coniferous which an adaptation to cold harsh climate is. Most of the species of Taiga such as spruce, fir, and pine are Evergreen. This is because the sun is low in the horizon for most of the year; it is difficult for plants to generate energy from photosynthesis.

The trees do not lose their leaves seasonally and are able to photosynthesize with their older leaves in late winter and spring when light is good but temperatures are still too low for new growth to commence. The leaves areneedle shaped to curb loss of water and with dark green color to increase absorption of sunlight. Theroots of Taiga Trees are shallow, which is basically to take advantage of the young thin soils. The conical shape and downward-drooping limbs help them shed snow.

Further, there are also some broadleaf plants found in Taiga. Examples are birch, aspen, willow, and rowan. Taiga Environment Challenges The Taiga is being destroyed everyday by both humans and nature. Nature causes forest fires with lighting, diseased by parasites or herbicides, and spruce trees that grow on top thick moss are frequently blown over by strong winds. Large-scale clear cutting, plantation forestry, introduction of exotic tree species, soil scarification, ditching, and use of pesticides or herbicides have led to habitat loss.

Large-scale industrial forestry, or logging, is the greatest important threat effecting the boreal forest. Other threats to the Taiga are oil and gas exploration, road building, mining, human triggered forest fire, and climate change. Animals of the Taiga are being hunted and trapped for their fur which decreases their population greatly. Hydroelectric power has ruined the water system.

Many fish have mercury poisoning. The Taiga is being destroyed equal to that of the rainforest. Wildfires have been an integral part of the Taiga environment for several thousand years. The main natural reason of the wildfires in Taiga is lightening strikes. However, the spread of the fire is dependent on weather, soil conditions, topography and the amount of dry organic matter fuel on the soil surface.

The combination of these factors forms the fire regime, which is characterized by the intensity, pattern of distribution and type of fire i.

By knowing a specific site s forest type, habitat and local climate, it is possible to determine the natural frequency of fire, which can vary from just a few years to hundreds of years. For example, wildfires develop more often in forests under a more continental climate e.

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Plant Adaptations to Wildfires Where fires occur more frequently, plant communities often have special ecological mechanisms to make them more resistant or even adapted to fire. For example the older trees of the Taiga Zones have thicker bark. There are some plants in which the seed cones open just after a wildfire. Jack Pine, an excellent adoption to pioneer the development of new trees.

Advantage Wildfires Due to heavy and thick bark, and due to the canopy made by the trees, usually, the wildfire would burn away the upper canopy of the trees and let sunlight reach the ground.

New plants will grow and provide food for animals that once could not live there because there were only evergreen trees. This is how even wildfires add in development of new forests in Taiga environment. The periodic wildfires clear out the tree canopies, allowing sunlight to invigorate new growth on the forest floor. That is why the wildfires have become a necessary part of the life cycle in the taiga.

It includes all the high altitude montane, subalpine, and alpine grasslands and shrublands around the world. They are located in plenty of subtropical and tropical regions. In India, the elevations of Western Ghats are included in Montane grasslands and shrublands.

Plants of these habitats display adaptations such as rosette structures, waxy surfaces, and hairy leaves. Tropical Rainforest The tropical rainforest is earth s most complex biome in terms of both structure and species diversity. It occurs under optimal growing conditions: abundant precipitation and year round warmth. Etymology: Rainforests Rainforests are called so because they are wet due to round the year rains.

There are apparently no seasons in Tropical rain forests near the equator, yet the tropical rainforests which are away from equator have only wet and dry seasons. Tropical rainforests receive to inches precipitation annually. Tropical rain forests are found in regions where temperatures and precipitation are high year-round. Please note that there is no annual rhythm to the forest; rather each species has evolved its own flowering and fruiting seasons.

Sunlight is a major limiting factor. Layers of Trees in Rainforests A tropical rainforest consists of four layers: the emergent trees, canopy, the understory, and the forest floor. The emergent and canopy layers make up the very top of the rainforest, where a few trees, called emergent, poke out above the green growth to reach the sun.

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Most of the plant growth in rainforests is here, close to the sun. Most rainforest animals, including monkeys, birds, and tree frogs, live in the canopy. Below the canopy are the young trees and shrubs that make up the understory. The plants in this layer cannot grow to large sizes because the canopy blocks most of the sunlight. The forest floor is almost bare because very little sunlight can get through the canopy and understory to reach the ground. This is where fallen leaves and branches rot quickly to release nutrients for other plants to grow.

Large mammals such as South American tapirs and Asian elephants who are too heavy to climb up into the canopy layer live in the dim light of the understory and forest floor. Complex Ecosystem of Rainforests In Rainforests, the plants and animals depend on each other for survival. For example, some insects can only survive in one type of tree, while some birds only eat one type of insect.

If this tree is destroyed, the insects will have no home. If the insects die, the birds who rely on them for food will starve to death. Because of this interdependence, if one type of plant or animal becomes extinct, several others could be in danger of extinction as well. Rainforest Soils It would appear to us that tropical soils are very fertile in order to support this high productivity. But, it is incorrect to say so. If we closely look at the system, we find that soils of Tropical Rain Forests are very thin and the rock below them highly weathered.

An analysis of soils of tropical regions shows them to be virtually devoid of soluble minerals. It has also been supported by the analysis of stream water draining tropical regions, which likewise reveals a scarcity of dissolved nutrients.

Most tropical soils are clays with little soluble mineral content, and moderate to strong acidity which interferes with the ability of roots to take up nutrients. In soils of the Tropical Rain Forests, the nutrients are found mainly in living plant biomass and in the layer of decomposing litter; there is little nutrient content of the deeper soil, as there is in temperate-zone ecosystems.

This suggests that plants are intercepting and taking up nutrients the moment they are released by decomposition. Many organisms play role in decomposition process: termites, bacteria, fungi, various invertebrates. Recycling of Nutrients Due to the above mentioned reasons, the rainforest reuses almost everything that falls to the ground and decays.

When leaves fall from the trees, when flowers wilt and die, and when any animal dies on the forest floor, it decays and all of the nutrients in the decayed species are recycled back into the roots of the trees and plants. Only the top few inches of rainforest soil have any nutrients. Most of the nutrients are in the biomass, the bulk of animal and plant life above the ground. The roots of rainforest trees are not very deep; that way they can collect all of the nutrients in the top few inches of the soil.

Rainforests even recycle their own rain. As water evaporates in the forest it forms clouds above the canopy that later fall as rain. Biodiversity in Rainforests Rainforests are home to half of all the living animal and plant species on the planet.

High biodiversity appears related to high ecological specialization of species. The rainforests are home to more worldwide species than all other biomes added together.

Why a Tropical Rain Forest cannot be replaced very quickly? A rainforest cannot be replaced as once it is destroyed; it is gone forever almost thousands of years.

We have read above that only the top few inches of rainforest soil have any nutrients. Below that it is deficient in nutrients. There is a high temperature and this high temperature leads to decomposition of the organic material as well as the inorganic parent material of the soil. There are frequent rains and these rains leach the decomposing material off the soil, out of the root zone quickly. So, the result is that the Tropical rain Forests have adapted themselves and quickly take up the nutrients and most nutrients in the tropical rain forests is stored in the vegetation.

When the forest is harvested for timber or other plant products, or the forest is burned, nutrients will be lost from the ecosystem, but the outputs cannot exceed inputs for very long because the stock of nutrient capital in the system will be depleted.

Because there was only a small stock of nutrients in the soil and most of the nutrients were in the biomass, there is little nutrient stock remaining to support regrowth.

Thus, we can t simply regrow tropical forests once they are burned once they are lost they are gone forever or at least for s of years, and even then the species that regrow will be different from the original forest species. Tropical Monsoon Forests Throughout the world, the tropical monsoon climate experiences abundant rainfall like that of the tropical rain forest climate, but it is concentrated in the high-sun season. Such forests are called Tropical Monsoon Forests.

Distribution of Tropical Monsoon Forests They are located in the monsoon climate beyond the equatorial region between 10 and 25 and North and South of the equator. Salient Features of Tropical Monsoon Rainforests The major controlling factor over the monsoon climate is its relationship to the monsoon circulation. Monsoon circulation of Asia exhibits an onshore flow of air air moving from ocean towards land during the summer or high-sun season, and offshore air flow air moving from land toward water during the winter or low-sun season.

The change in direction is due to the difference in the way water and land heat. It is characterized by high temperatures throughout the year, even in the hills.

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The rainfall here is seasonal, but heavy and is above 78 cm in a year. Most of the rain is received in the period from May to November, and is adequate for the growth of vegetation during the entire year.

December to March are the dry months with very little rainfall. The heavy rain is responsible for the tropical wet forests in these regions, which consists of a large number of species of animals.

Evergreen forests are the typical feature of the region. The adjacent graphics shows the location of Tropical Rain Forests and Tropical Monsoon Rainforests throughout the world. Temperate Rainforests Temperate rainforests are dense rainforests that occur in the regions of high rainfall in the temperate zone.

Distribution of Temperate Rainforests We know that the north temperate zone extends from the Tropic of Cancer at about The adjacent graphics shows the distribution of the Temperate Rainforests throughout the world. The deciduous trees lose their leaves during the dry season just a few months before the advent of summer rains.

Caatinga of Brazil is a suitable example.

The others are Chaco in Paraguay and northern Argentina, the brigalow scrub of Australia, and the dorveld of South Africa. The wood of the trees, especially teak wood is valuable for fine cabinetry. In addition, some of the trees with dry season adaption produce usable waxes and gums, such as carnauba and palm-hard waxes.

Trees include Maple, many Oaks, Elm, Aspen, and Birch, among others, as well as a number of coniferous genera, such as Larch and Metasequoia. Deciduous shrubs include honeysuckle, viburnum, and many others. Most temperate woody vines are also deciduous, including grapes, poison ivy, virginia creeper, wisteria, etc. The characteristic is useful in plant identification; for instance in parts of Southern California and the American Southeast, deciduous and evergreen oak species may grow side by side.

Temperate deciduous forest has a temperate of 4 seasons. Temperate deciduous forests get about to millimeters of rain annually, which is the second most of all the biomes. Savannah Biome A Savannah is a grassland ecosystem. In Savannah, the trees are sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting grasses. The largest area of Savannah is in Africa.

The following graphics shows Savannah as well as Rainforests so you are able to distinct the two regions. But this is not a strict definition and Savannah biome also includes treeless tracts of grasslands.

The water availability in Savannahs is seasonal and majority of the rainfall is confined to one season. Forest Fire as a feature of Savannah Like Taiga, the forest fires are common in Savannahs also but that is mainly because of human interference and not because of the natural reasons as the lightning in case of Taiga Biome. In Taiga, usually the forest fires are crown fires which destroy the canopy, but in Savannahs, these fires are usually confined to the herbaceous layer and do little long term damage to mature trees.

These fires either kill or suppress tree seedlings, thus preventing the establishment of a continuous tree canopy which would prevent further grass growth. Large areas of Savannah have been cleared of trees, and this clearing is continuing today. For example until recently , ha of Savannah were cleared annually in Australia alone primarily to improve pasture production. Types of Savannahs There are several types of Savannahs as following: Tropical and subtropical Savannahs Tropical and subtropical grasslands and shrublands as the tropical and subtropical grasslands, Savannahs, and shrublands biome.


The Savannahs of Africa, including the Serengeti, famous for its wildlife, are typical of this type. Examples are Great Plains of the United States.

Mediterranean Savannahs Mid-latitude Savannahs in Mediterranean climate regions, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, part of the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome. The oak tree Savannahs of California, part of the California chaparral and woodlands eco-region are examples. Flooded Savannahs That are flooded seasonally or year-round. Montane Savannahs These are high-altitude Savannahs; example is highland Savannahs of the Angolan Scarp Savannah and woodlands ecoregions.

Threats to Savannahs Savannah covered more than 40 per cent of the earth s surface once upon a time, before the human caused fire started damaging them. Fire occurs annually throughout the biome. The timing of these fires is important. Early in the dry season, they are beneficial and increase tree cover; if late in the season, they are very hot and kill trees and seeds.

Adaptations in Savannahs Savannah shrubs and trees are xerophytes or drought resistant, with various adaptations like small thick leaves, rough bark, or waxy leaf surface to protect them from the dryness.

Africa has the largest region of this biome, including the famous Serengeti plains and the Sahel region.

Some of the local names of these grasslands include the Llanos in Venezuela, Campo cerrado in brazil, and Pantanal of southern brazil. Soil of Savannahs Savannah grasslands are much richer in humus than the equatorial forests.

The C4 grasses are found in majority in Savannah. Animals in Savannahs Savannah are the home of large mammals that graze on Savannah grasses or the Savannah grasses or feed upon the grazers themselves ; these are lions, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, gazelle, wild beast, antelope, rhinoceros, and elephant. Some of the animal species like the black and white rhino have become extinct during recent time. The most important characteristic of the Temperate Grasslands is thatthey have almost no trees and large shrubs and have grasses as the dominant vegetation.

Please note that the amount of rainfall is less in temperate grasslands than in Savannahs. Climate in Temperate Grasslands Temperate grasslands have hot summers and cold winters. Rainfall is moderate. The amount of annual rainfall influences the height of grassland vegetation, with taller grasses in wetter regions.

Akin to Savannah, seasonal drought and occasional fires are very important to biodiversity. However, their effects aren t as dramatic in temperate grasslands as they are in Savannahs. Few natural prairie regions remain because most have been turned into farms or grazing land. My subjects were Public Administration and Veterinary Sciences. I Worked in the state service for 2 years.

My Subjects were Zoology and Veterinary Science. I was posted as DCF. While I was qualifying other exams, the passion and zeal to work as an IAS officer remained unfulfilled. This year, long wait is over. Finally I qualified prelims and got AIR It is all about your passion and determination to move on to achieve what you want.

Patience, Passion, Perseverance and hard work are key ingredients. I am sharing my experience in bullet form, I hope it may help you. For detail analysis and books etc please contact me through mail billz gmail.

I m sharing my marks sheet with you. Just before 2 months from prelims make sure you solve as many mock tests as possible. Insights prelims tests series or vision or any good test series will suffice. Certain sections like geography and environment should be strengthened as some quality questions which are current based are asked. You should remember facts but more focus should be on clarity of concepts.

This is the thing which will help you in mains.

From onwards we have seen dramatic change in nature of the preliminary examination. UPSC has shifted its focus from facts to concepts. Remember one mantra that revision is the key. This will help you to pick up the relevant portion of news and add to the mains topic.

Daily minimum 2 hour of answer writing Insights Secure is must after prelims one can write 7 questions in an hour. It should be a time bound event.Reptiles and amphibians are few or absent because of the extremely cold temperatures. These bodies are entities shaped by an Act of Parliament or state legislatures and set up by the government to consider the data and make judgments in some arena of activity.

In this pyramid, the energy is minimum as the highest trophic level and is maximum at the lowest trophic level. As a result, plants will die and will not be able to produce oxygen that we need to live. Food Chain and Food Webs Food chain refers to a linked feeding series in an ecosystem. Few natural prairie regions remain because most have been turned into farms or grazing land.

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