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Difference between Biosphere and Biome


Ecology, biomes, and biosphere are common terms when discussing our surroundings. Researchers in biology, ecology, and environmental sciences study these different aspects to understand the interaction among organisms and their environment. Studies show that biome refers to species in a location while biosphere comprises areas that provide all adequate conditions for the growth of populations in that region. Biospheres and biomes are often confused, but they are not entirely the same. It is important to understand how these terms differ from each other to realize their roles in different types of ecology. Keep reading to learn all the differences between biosphere and biome.

Comparison Table

DefinitionAll life on EarthOrganisms requiring
similar growth conditions
TypesAtmosphere, lithosphere,
and hydrosphere
Grasslands, forests,
aquatic, desert, etc.
ComponentsWater, air, soil, etc.Organisms adapted to
specific growth conditions
RelationshipComprises many biomesMake up the biosphere

What is Biosphere?

As the name indicates, “bio” means “like “life” while “sphere” means “area.” Thus, the biosphere refers to those parts of Earth where life exists. The biosphere comprises all parts of Earth that contain life in any way. It could range from deep oceans to the top of mountains where even only one species of the plant genus survives. Biospheres can also be defined as areas that offer all necessary conditions for the growth and development of flora or fauna. Biomes are one of the organizational structures of the biosphere. They are formed by the collection of all the ecosystems on Earth. As ecosystems comprise populations that include a pool of individuals, the basic unit of the biosphere is an individual or organism.

Biospheres comprise different habitats and ecosystems and provide all environmental factors, like light, temperature, humidity, oxygen, etc., to facilitate the growth of living beings. They contain necessary environmental factors.

The history of the biosphere is over 3.5 billion years old. The earliest life-forms in the biosphere are prokaryotes, including archaea and bacteria that survived without oxygen. They used chemosynthesis and photosynthesis over time to produce energy that helped them survive and reproduce. The addition of oxygen to the biosphere gave rise to the evolution of complex life forms, giving rise to various types of eukaryotes.

Did you know that the biosphere is only 20 km from the ocean to the atmosphere, and all life-forms exist within this area only?

Yes, all organisms and microorganisms exist within this space and interact with each other and their surroundings.

Types of Biosphere

Biospheres are categorized into three types according to their non-living or environmental components. These include the hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere.


The hydrosphere comprises all of Earth’s waters, including different water bodies. Besides lakes, oceans, canals, and springs, the hydrosphere also includes glaciers. The hydrosphere is crucial to the survival of living organisms, as there can be no life on Earth without water. The water on Earth accounts for 70% of the total area.


Lithosphere translates to the area containing soil. It refers to any space above the sea that comprises land masses, including islands. It is also called the terrestrial part of the biosphere. The lower mantle and core are also parts of the lithosphere, but they do not contribute to the sustenance of life.


The atmosphere refers to the part of Earth covered by gasses or air. Air comprises gasses like oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, etc. They contribute to the sustenance of life by facilitating food production through photosynthesis.

What is Biome?

Biome refers to the collection of similar ecosystems around the world. Every biome has particular climatic conditions required to reproduce and grow specific organisms in the ecosystems. Yet, sometimes, the biotic factors, including flora and fauna, might differ between ecosystems of the same biome. The difference in the biological species does not impact the ecological niches and habitats. So, the species are typically closely related.

The organisms and microbes living in soil, including bacteria and parasites, might not be the same in all soils, yet close species will require similar soil conditions. The climate widely determines the biome type in each region influenced by abiotic environmental factors. For example, rainforests worldwide make up a biome as they require similar conditions to grow.


Types of Biomes

Biomes are typically categorized into aquatic and grassland, but there are three more biomes in our surroundings, including forest, desert, and tundra biomes. These biomes are further divided into marine, freshwater, rainwater, savanna, temperate rainforest, and taiga.

Aquatic Biomes

Aquatic Biomes refer to the biomes comprising water bodies on Earth. They can be freshwater or marine. Freshwater biomes like lakes, ponds, and rivers are surrounded by land with a salt content of less than one percent. Marine biomes are also aquatic biomes covering around three-quarters of the Earth’s surface. They include coral reefs, oceans, and estuaries and have around 3.5% salt.


As the name indicates, grasslands are covered by grasses and have a dry climate. Like aquatic biomes, grasslands are also of two types: tropical and temperate. Tropical grasslands or savannas are closer to the equator and may have a few trees. Grassland biomes cover most of Africa, Australia, South America, and India. On the other hand, temperate grasslands are away from the equator and are more common in Hungary, Uruguay, Argentina, South Africa, Russia, and North America. Temperate grasslands do not have shrubs or bushes due to lesser rainfall. They may have short or long grasses.


Contrary to grasslands, forest biomes are abundant with tall trees and account for one-third of the Earth’s surface. Forests can be tropical, temperate, or boreal. They are found at different latitudes globally and thus require specific climatic conditions. Tropical forests are humid, warm and are present closer to the equator, while temperate forests experience all seasons and are found at higher latitudes. Boreal forests are located at the coldest and driest parts of the highest latitudes. They majorly receive snow instead of rainfall. Forests are home to most of the types of biodiversity in the world, including birds, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

Desert Biomes

Deserts are the driest areas, with less than twenty inches of yearly rainfall. Deserts cover approximately 20 percent of the Earth’s surface and are considered the hottest regions. However, some deserts can be extremely cold. Biodiversity in deserts is less than in other biomes due to the extreme conditions, and only a few adapted species can survive. Deserts can be coastal, semiarid, hot and cold, or cold. Most of them are found in subtropical regions. They are typically home to small mammals and reptiles.

Tundra Biomes

Tundra biomes are the most inhospitable areas with the lowest temperatures, making it difficult for most organisms to survive. The temperature ranges between -34 and 12 degrees Celsius, with only six to ten inches of rain annually. Due to the environmental conditions, many living organisms do not survive in these biomes. Arctic and alpine tundra are the widely known types of tundra biomes. Arctic tundra is present in the North of the boreal forests, while alpine tundra is on high mountain peaks.

Differences between Biosphere and Biome



The biosphere refers to the area where life exists on Earth, comprising all biotic and abiotic components.


Biomes comprise living organisms limited to specific growing conditions on Earth, facilitating their growth and reproduction.



The biosphere is categorized into three major types: atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere.


Biomes are of five types: grasslands, forests, aquatic, desert and tundra.



The biosphere comprises living organisms and environmental factors like water, oxygen, soil, etc.


Alternatively, biomes comprise the particular environmental conditions and the organisms adapted to those specific conditions.



The biosphere is a system consisting of many ecosystems and biomes on Earth.


Whereas, the biome is an organizational structure within the enormous biosphere.



The biosphere essentially covers all living and non-living aspects of the globe, proving to be the biggest compilation of elements.


At the same time, biomes are components of the biosphere, thus smaller than the biosphere.

The Bottom Line

The biosphere and biome are important terms for understanding the relationship between organisms and their surroundings. The main difference between biosphere and biome is that the biosphere comprises all living and nonliving components on Earth that influence life. On the other hand, biomes constitute similar ecosystems with organisms requiring similar growth conditions. They are one of the organizational structures within the biosphere. Biosphere and biomes help understand the role and requirements of organisms in ecosystems and communities.


Is a biome bigger than a biosphere?

The biosphere refers to the overall atmosphere of the Earth, and it includes multiple biomes. So, the biome is not bigger than the biosphere. The biosphere also includes the oceans.

What is the main difference between biome and ecosystem?

An ecosystem is an area where multiple organisms live together and interact with the environment. At the same time, a biome is a large area with organisms that live in a particular environment making up that biome. Majorly, the difference between the area and climate distinguishes biomes and ecosystems.

Which biomes would be the coldest?

Tundra biomes are the coldest biomes with a low amount of rain or snowfall. Tundra biomes are found in the Arctic throughout North America, Europe, and Siberia.

What is the largest biome in the world?

The Taiga or boreal biomes are the largest in the world, spanning Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Japan, China, and the US. This region, comprising coniferous trees, represents more than 30% of the global forest area.

Is the biosphere a living thing?

Biosphere refers to everything under, on, and above the Earth’s surface. Thus, it constitutes all living and nonliving elements in the biosphere.

What part of Earth is not the biosphere?

The layers of the Earth, including the mantle, core, and crust, are not a part of the biosphere. Besides that, all land surfaces, the atmosphere, and the ocean are a part of the biosphere.

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