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Hawaii, Climate and Ecological Systems

tall grass prairie, alpine tundra, cattle ranching, animal groups, particular place

Climate plays a crucial role in establishing a regionís ecological system. Climate influences the processes that make soil, and it interacts with the soil to determine what plants and animals are able to live in a particular place. A dry, hot climate with poor soil will limit the variety of plants and animals to those specially adapted to survive on small amounts of water and few nutrients. On the other hand, a wet and warm climate with productive soil will promote a rich and varied range of plant and animal species.

Climate also influences the living habits of humans. Individuals in regions with severe winters wear heavy clothing to protect themselves from the cold, and they live in houses that are insulated for warmth. Those who reside in tropical regions wear lighter clothing and live in houses with maximum ventilation for relief from the heat. Economically, climate has a strong effect on agricultural activities. In climates that have long warm seasons and plentiful rain, agricultural crops thrive, but in drier regions, cattle ranching tends to be more prominent.

In order to understand all of the complexities of climates, geographers have long classified them according to temperature, moisture, and vegetation. As a result, unique plant varieties came to be associated with certain climatic regions. Also, animal groups depend on particular kinds of vegetation for food. When a natural interactive system of plants and animals develops, it is called an ecosystem. It includes the living organisms-plants, animals, bacteria, and viruses-as well as the nourishing matter they depend on. Nonliving matter includes water, soil nutrients, oxygen, and carbon dioxide from the air.

Ecosystems consist of all the plants and animals in a specific area and the ways in which they interact with nonliving elements of the environment. Ecosystems exist in water (both fresh and salt water) and on land, and they also include interactions with atmospheric influences. Examples of natural ecosystems are the equatorial and tropical zone rain forests, the monsoon forests, subtropical evergreen forests, midlatitude deciduous forests, cold needle-leaf forests, tall grass prairie, semideserts, desert, and arctic and alpine tundra.

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