What Is Biogeography?

Contributor: Renae Green. Lesson ID: 12985

Did you ever wonder why kangaroos are mostly found in Australia, and most lions live in Africa? Biogeography is the super-cool study of how plants and animals are distributed across the earth.


Life Science, World

learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Otter, Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Have you ever thought about owning a pet kangaroo or koala bear, only to be disappointed because those animals don’t live in your part of the world? Or maybe you saw a picture of a gorgeous flower and decided to plant one in your yard, only to learn that flower doesn’t grow in your climate. Why is that? The study of biogeography helps us understand where certain plants and animals live on the earth, and why.

The word "biogeography" is best understood when we break the word down into three root words:

  • Bio means life.
    • Some words that come from this root are biology (the study of living things), biography (a written record of someone’s life), and symbiosis (how two different organisms live together and depend on each other).
  • Geo means earth.
    • Some words that come from this root are geology (the study of the earth as recorded in rocks), geocentric (having the earth as the center), and georgic (agricultural).
    • The name George means one who works the earth, and Georgia means land of farmers.
  • Graph means writing.
    • Some words that come from this root are autograph (the writing of one’s name), paragraph (a part of a piece of writing that deals with one subject), and graphite (a shiny black substance that is used in pencils).

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So, biogeography is the study of life on the earth, written down. More specifically, it’s the study of how different plants and animals are distributed around the earth, and it’s written down so we can easily compare the different places and life forms. Sounds impressive, huh?

Continue to the Got It? section to learn some specific — and really cool — examples of how and why different life forms are located in different parts of the earth.

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