Understanding biomes--the communities of nature that share a similar climate and plant and animal life--is key to a student's success in biology, geography, and environmental studies. This book provides a thorough and accessible description of the climate, plant and animal life, origins and human impacts, and history of the scientific exploration of every major biome in the world. Chapters on the "human-dominated" biomes--urban areas and agricultural regions--illustrate how these frequently ignored communities are also an important part of the global environment. More than 90 maps and photographs help the reader visualize the extent and characteristics of each biome. This book divides the world's biomes into four principal types: Terrestrial, Freshwater, Marine, and Human-dominated. Comprehensive discussions enable readers to obtain a thorough understanding of each biome, and the convenient one-volume format allows easy comparison between aspects of each region. For example, a student can compare the typical characteristics of flora and fauna of the Continental Shelf and Deep Sea biomes, or the climates of the Tropical Rainforest and the Tundra. Current references to the latest scientific research provide a convenient starting point for those interested in more intensive investigations on such issues as the human impact on the distribution of natural biomes and the loss of biodiversity in the world.