Biomes and ecosystems

Curriculum overview

The Australian Curriculum: Geography content description addressed in the illustration is:

  • The distribution and characteristics of biomes as regions with distinctive climates, soils, vegetation and productivity (ACHGK060)

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Learning goals

The illustration-specific learning goals are: 

  • understanding that ecosystems are communities of living things together with the physical environment that sustains them
  • developing the ability to identify ecosystems at all scales, from a small patch of vegetation to the earth's biosphere
  • developing the capacity to identify and describe the major biomes of Australia and the world, and explaine their spatial distribution
  • understanding the relationship between climate soils and vegetation.

Geographical understanding and context

Biomes are major world ecosystems characterised by distinctive climates, soils and vegetation. Throughout history humans have depended on biomes for their survival, and have modified them to produce food and a wide range of other products. 

An understanding of the nature of the original biomes is necessary if we are to develop more sustainable primary production systems. The sustainability of the systems depends on restoring some of the characteristics and functions of the original ecosystems.

Teaching approaches

This illustration of practice is based on four areas of inquiry, and resources are provided to support students inquiry activities.

1. Exploring environmental spheres

Introduction to ecosystems (PDF, 758 KB) features the information and activities needed to introduce students to the four environmental spheres, ecosystems and biomes. Ask students to read the information and undertake the various activities contained in the resource. They will investigate the various relationships between the living and non-living components of an ecosystem in order to understand how ecosystems develop unique and distinctive characteristics.

2. Introducing terrestrial biomes

Ecosystems and biomes worksheet (PDF, 376 KB) provides a note-taking framework for your students to use. Ask them to view the YouTube presentation Ecosystems and biomes (duration, 15:55) which will introduce them to some of the world's terrestrial biomes. Then provide them with the resource for completion.

3. Mapping world biomes

Ask your students to access the Blue planet biomes website and use the information presented to map the distribution of the world's major biomes. Students can then describe the global distribution of each biome, identifying the regions and countries associated with each one. Mapping world biomes (PDF, 254 KB) provides a line map for students to use.

4. Exploring details of major world biomes

Direct students to read the text in World biomes (PDF, 901 KB). Working in small groups or as a class, ask students to discuss the main climate, vegetation and soil characteristics of each biome. They can then complete the activities provided within the text to support their learning.

With the aid of an atlas, ask your students to study a map of Australia's climatic regions. Discuss the different biomes that are likely to exist in Australia. Ask students to use online resources to check the accuracy of their assumptions.

Divide your class into small groups, and allocate each group one Australian biome region to investigate. Each group should report back to the class outlining the information collected about the location of the biome (including a map), the temperature and rainfall characteristics, soil characteristics and vegetation characteristics (including images).

What you need

Access to the Internet and YouTube.

Introduction to ecosystems (PDF, 758 KB)

Ecosystems and biomes (duration, 15:55)

Mapping world biomes (PDF, 254 KB).

Curriculum connections

This illustration links with the content descriptions of the following Phase 1 Australian Curriculum.


  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements to promote a point of view or enable a new way of seeing (ACELY1720)
  • Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, selecting aspects of subject matter and particular language, visual, and audio features to convey information and ideas (ACELY1725)
  • Explore and reflect on personal understanding of the world and significant human experience gained from interpreting various representations of life matters in texts (ACELT1635)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret and analyse texts, comparing and evaluating representations of an event, issue, situation or character in different texts (ACELY1744)


  • Given coordinates, plot points on the Cartesian plane, and find coordinates for a given point (ACMNA178)
  • Identify and investigate issues involving numerical data collected from primary and secondary sources (ACMSP169)


  • Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems (ACSSU176)
  • Plan, select and use appropriate investigation methods, including field work and laboratory experimentation, to collect reliable data; assess risk and address ethical issues associated with these methods (ACSIS165)


  • The extension of settlement, including the effects of contact (intended and unintended) between European settlers in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (ACDSEH020)

Source: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).



Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). Australian Curriculum: Geography. Retrieved May 2013, from:

All other required resources are listed in the 'What you need' section above.