Biomes


Biomes are nature’s major communities, classified according to the predominant vegetation and characterised by adaptations of organisms to that particular environment.
The four internationally recognised major biome types are aquatic, grasslands, forests, and desert. These may be further sub-divided and within South Africa six biomes are commonly described:
Forests
Fynbos
Grasslands
Nama-Karoo
Savannas
Succulent Karoo
In addition there are coastal and marine ecosystems and the wetlands.
A ‘Thicket Biome’ is sometimes described. Although not officially recognised in the literature, it does not easily fit within the ‘Forest’ type as it does not have the required height nor the many strata below the canopy. Nor is it a ‘Savannah’ type, in that it does not have a conspicuous grassy ground layer.
The importance of biomes cannot be overestimated. Biomes have changed and moved many times during the history of life on Earth. More recently, human activities have drastically altered these communities. Thus, conservation and preservation of biomes should be a major concern to all. Forests; Fynbos; Grasslands; Nama-Karoo; Savannas; Succulent Karoo.
Wetlands; Coastal & marine.
South Africa is characterised by a wide diversity of plant life and is ranked as the third most biologically diverse country in the world (mainly due to the richness of plant life).
Over 18,000 species of plants occur in South Africa, of which over 80% occur nowhere else. This diversity is caused by variations in climate, geology, soils and landscape forms.
South Africa also has the highest concentration of threatened plant groups in the world. Approximately 3,435 of South African plant groups are considered to be globally threatened by extinction. A further 204 groups are estimated to be threatened at a local level.


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