Seashores, glaciers, high mountains, and deserts pose obvious physical limits to animal distribution. Even in the absence of physical barriers, however, most species inhabit only part of a major landmass, because of ecological constraints. It is rare that a single ecological factor, or a precise combination of factors, limits an insect's distribution. However, most ranges can readily be assigned to a particular biome or bioregion, that is, a large landscape with characteristic overall ecological conditions. Biomes can conveniently be described by general landscape physiognomy, mainly by reference to plant cover, which, among other things, determines the microclimate the insects experience. Biomes do not coincide with zoogeographic regions and each biome comprises separate areas on different continents. A particular biome may harbor animals that look similar or behave similarly but are not necessarily closely related. Instead, they may be characteristic life-forms exhibiting certain traits evolved independently, in response to similar ecological conditions; desert beetles offer examples. Authors differentiate and subdivide biomes to different degrees; some clearly distinct and almost universally recognized biomes are briefly discussed here (Fig. 2).
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