Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mediterranean Biome

       This biome actually goes by several names.  It is found surrounding  large parts of the Mediterranean Sea and is thus sometimes called the Mediterranean Biome, others call it a Woodland Biome, while others call it a Shrub or Chaparral Biome. 
         In general, this biome is found clustered around the 30 north or south latitude line.  These are the latitudes where warm, wet air rising from the equator has cooled, dropping its moisture over the equator.  The air mass then spreads out from the equator and at these latitudes falls to the ground as very dry air.  In many parts of the world this forms deserts, but in the Mediterranean Biome the presence of an adjacent body of water, often with cold waters, offsets the dryness of the falling air to some extent.  Often the precipitation that does fall is largely restricted to a few months in the relatively warm winter, and the summers may be very hot and dry.

       Chaparral is the smallest biome. It is found in specific areas between places with a hot, dry climate and high atmospheric pressure, and those with cool, wet climates and low atmospheric pressure (Ricciuti, 9). It shares certain characteristics with its neighboring biomes. Chaparral grows between forest and grassland, or between desert and grassland biomes.

          Chaparral, or Sclerophyll forest biomes, occur in Europe, Africa, Asia Minor, North America, and South America. Chaparrals exist between 30° and 40° North and South latitude on the west coasts of continents. The favorable climatic conditions which produce this biome includes shore areas with nearby cold ocean currents. Mediterranean Chaparral biome is localized in the coastal areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea including parts of Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor.

           The chaparral biome is found in a little bit of most of the continents - the west coast of the United States, the west coast of South America, the Cape Town area of South Africa, the western tip of Australia and the coastal areas of the Mediterranean.

             Lay of the land: The chaparral biome has many different types of terrain. Some examples are flat plains, rocky hills and mountain slopes. It is sometimes used in movies for the "Wild West".

           Chaparral is characterized as being very hot and dry. As for the temperature, the winter is very mild and is usually about 10 °C. Then there is the summer. It is so hot and dry at 40 °C that fires and droughts are very common.

               Fortunately, the plants and animals are adapted to these conditions. Most of the plants have small, hard leaves which hold moisture. Some of these plants are poison oak, scrub oak, Yucca Wiple and other shrubs, trees and cacti.

              The animals are all mainly grassland and desert types adapted to hot, dry weather. A few examples: coyotes, jack rabbits, mule deer, alligator lizards, horned toads, praying mantis, honey bee and ladybugs.