Terrestrial Ecosystem – Concept, characteristics and examples

We explain what a terrestrial ecosystem is and the main characteristics of this biome. Also, how it is classified and examples.

Terrestrial ecosystem
Terrestrial ecosystems take place on solid ground and in the air.

What is a terrestrial ecosystem?

Terrestrial ecosystems are those ecosystems that take place on firm ground and in the air, or in geographical features (mountains, etc.), places where they find everything they need to be born, grow and reproduce.

They are distinguished from aquatic and mixed ecosystems in that do not present a predominance of large bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers or seas. Even so, they present different ranges of rainfall, depending on their geographical and climatic characteristics.

The terrestrial fauna, thus, has adapted millions of years ago to the rigidity of the soil and the drought of the air (compared to the water where it originated), by means of solid limbs for walking, instead of swimming, and skins with the capacity to self-moistening, so as not to dry out. Flying, terrestrial and subterranean animals coexist in terrestrial ecosystems.

Similarly, these ecosystems are some of the most affected by pollution and by the incidence of human activities, such as logging, urban sprawl or the accumulation of solid waste.

Characteristics of a terrestrial ecosystem

Terrestrial ecosystem
Life on earth has a greater presence of light and the cleanliness of the environment.

Water is a factor of capital importance for life in terrestrial ecosystems, since they only receive it from part of the rain, which in some environments can be very scarce.

However, life on earth has other advantages such as greater presence of light and cleanliness of the environment, as well as huge platforms on which plant life grows up to the heights and a great climatic and topographic diversity.

At the same time, in terrestrial ecosystems wind is the main agent of erosion, as well as the transport of certain species, and in them plant life coexists with animal, fungal, microbiological and amphibian life. In rainforests, for example, biodiversity reaches some of its greatest known limits.

Types of terrestrial ecosystems

Terrestrial ecosystems are abundant and can be classified according to their climatic characteristics and the abiotic factors present in them:

  • Aggregates. Those with low incidence of precipitation and therefore enormous drought, with high temperatures during the day and low at night (or low and lower still, such as the Antarctic polar desert) and difficult conditions for life. There is usually little vegetation and life very specialized to the conditions.
  • Prairies. Ecosystems of low vegetation and generally in plains, flooded or not during the rainy season, in which animal life abounds and there is usually great climatic variation during the seasons.
  • Jungle. They generally have large accumulations of dense vegetation, of great size, with very low understory and enormous accumulations of organic matter. They are hotbeds of life, with thousands of species of all kinds and hot and humid climatic cycles, common in the equator.
  • Mountainous Usually mixed, combining other ecosystems but tending towards the arid as one ascends in the mountain, given the drop in oxygen and temperatures.

Examples of terrestrial ecosystem

Terrestrial ecosystem
Deserts currently occupy a third of planet Earth in total.

Some terrestrial ecosystems are:

  • Hot deserts. The arid ecosystems par excellence, with xerophytic vegetation adapted to extreme daytime heat and very little precipitation, but with a very particular fauna that takes refuge from the heat as best it can. They currently occupy a third of planet Earth in total.
  • Humid tropical jungle. Located in the equatorial regions of America and Africa, they are huge agglomerations of plant and animal life, in closed habitats and abundant rainfall. They usually occur in hot regions, without seasons beyond a dry season and a rainy season. They are the most biodiverse regions on the planet.
  • Grasslands Also called grasslands or meadows, they are ecosystems in which herbaceous vegetation predominates, that is, low-lying grasses. They tend to occur in places with low rainfall and temperate temperatures, with intense summers and cold winters.
  • Taiga. Also called boreal forest or coniferous forest, these are large closed formations of tall vegetation, considered the largest forest mass on the planet. They are located in the cold areas of northern Russia and Siberia, northern Canada and Europe, and have temperatures of 19 ° C in summer and -30 ° C in winter, that is, a huge thermal variation. Its fauna is composed of small mammals and land and air predators, mainly.