The Worlds Major Vegetation Types

In the broadest sense the world's vegetation can be divided into several basic structural types, each of which includes several bionics:

1. There is a set of "forest vegetation" bionics, which have a dense, closed canopy of trees. If you stand and look upwards in a forest, you see few large gaps between the crowns of the trees, which tend to overlap and interlock with one another. Forest biomes include tropical rainforest, temperate evergreen forest, temperate deciduous forest, and cold climate conifer forest (also called "boreal conifer" and "taiga") ( Figures 2.5a, 2.6*, 2.7*).

2. "Woodland" biomes arc rather like forest but with a more open canopy, with significant gaps between individual trees so that their crowns often do not touch. These include Mediterranean woodland, tropical dry woodland, and boreal woodland. A typical sort of definition of woodland would be that less than 70% of the canopy above is trees, with the rest being open sky (Figure 2.5b).

3. "Shrub" or "scrub" biomes have low woody plants, usually with a rather gnarled appearance and multiple stems instead of a single trunk. They include temperate semi-arid scrub, tropical semi-arid scrub, Mediterranean scrub (garrigue) (Figures 2.5c, 2.8*).

4. "Grasslands" look rather like a lawn or meadow—both of which are human creations—except that these are natural, not cultivated. For example, in the category of grasslands there are the savannas in the tropics, steppe or prairie in the temperate zones, and grassy tundra in very cold climates. Sometimes there may be an open scattering of trees or shrubs (Figures 2.5d, 2.9*, 2.10*).

5. "Desert" bionics are distinguished mainly by lack of vegetation, with differing degrees of openness, or even no vegetation at all. Semi-desert is a sort of transitional open scrub or open grassland, whereas "true" desert has almost no vegetation. People tend to imagine that most deserts arc sandy—in fact, more often they are covered by stones or bare rock (Figures 2.5e, 2.11*, 2.12, 2.14*. 2.15).

Figure 2.5. General form of vegetation: (a) forest, (b) woodland, (c) scrub, (d) grassland, (e) desert.

Figure 2.5. General form of vegetation: (a) forest, (b) woodland, (c) scrub, (d) grassland, (e) desert.

Figure 2.6. Tropical rainforest. Malaysia. Source: Author.

Figure 2.7. Cold climate conifer forest, mountains of California. Source: Author.

Figure 2.8. Evergreen oak scrub, southeastern Iran. Source. Kamran Zcndchdcl.
Figure 2.9. Grassland, California. Source: Author.
Figure 2.10. Tundra, above trecline in the Andes, Chile. Source: Margie Mayfield.
Coniferous Forests Iran
Figure 2.11. Semi-desert, Mohave Desert, Arizona. Source: Claus Holzaplel.
Coniferous Forests Iran
Figure 2.12. Semi-desert, Iran. Source: Kamran Zendehdel.

For more detailed study, these vegetation types are subdivided by ecologists in many difièrent ways, using more specific definitions. It is important to realize that while all of the boundaries are really rather subjective (since vegetation types tend to fade into one another on the broad scale) they are nevertheless useful.

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    What are the major vegetation types of the world?
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    What are the majpr vegeyation types in the wo?
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    What are the world major vegetation zone?
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    Is desert a vegetation type in the world?
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