Virtual biomes illustration, biomes with goggles
Written by: Charles Kazilek
Illustrated by: CJ Kazilek and Sabine Deviche

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Biome: a large area of plants and animals that occur naturally.

Virtual: a simulated (made up) environment based on the real world. Often computers are used to create virtual worlds.

Explore Biomes in Virtual Reality

While it is fun to visit and explore each biome in person, it is not likely that you can get to all of them. So we are gathering some 360 views of the different biomes that you can use to explore and learn about each biome. It is like having your own private window looking into these amazing places.

There are three ways to view each biome. You can use a computer and click and drag to look around. You can also use your smart phone like an iPhone or Android with their gyroscope enabled function to look into each biome. In this mode you can move the phone around as you to look into the biome. Finally, if you have Virtual Reality (VR) goggles like Google Cardboard, you can immerse yourself into each biome. Be sure to stand up and turn and look around to view all of the space.

We are just getting started, so bookmark this page so you can find your way back to explore more virtual biomes as they are released. We also welcome your feedback and suggestions.

How to explore the virtual biomes

How To? textOn a computer, smart phone, or tablet you can click or touch the Location icon to move to the new area. When using goggles, you place the pointer on top of the Location Icon to move to a new area. Below are the other icons you will find in the different tours. Review the list below before you jump into these virtual worlds.

Bottom Menu Icons

  • Circle around a plus sign.
    Zoom into the VR image.
  • Circle around a minus sign.
    Zoom out from the VR image.
  • Rotate arrow in a circle.
    Auto rotate the VR image.
  • Three squares inside a circle.
    Open and close the tour thumbnail images.
  • Box with checkmark inside.
    When thumbnail images are open, checkmarks are visited locations.
  • Rectangle inside a circle.
    Move between sterographic image options.
  • Rectangle at the bottom left of a larger dotted rectangle.
    Enter full screen.
  • Rectangle with smaller dotted rectangle in the lower left.
    Exit full screen.

Tour Icons

  • Lower case letter "i" in a circle.
    Information Icon - information about a point of interest in the biome.
  • Pin-drop image showing a map location. 
    Location Icon - takes you to a different location in the biome.
  • Graphhic image of mountains with magnifying glass. 
    Image Icon – opens close-up image of animal or plant.
  • Clock graphic with an arrow pointing in a clockwise direction.
    Time Travel Icon – Move forward in time in the same location.
  • Clock graphic with an arrow pointing in a counter clockwise direction.
    Time Travel Icon – Move backward in time in the same location.
  • Graphic image of rectangle with play button triangle.
    Video Icon – opens and plays videos.
  • Closed Caption -CC- icon
    CC Icon – opens text box of any audio file that has a voice track. Usually located at the bottom right of the activation zone for the audio file.
  • Globe graphic with arrow pointing
    Leave Virtual Tour – Leave the tour and go to additional information.

Biologist Notebook

Illustration of pencil writing

 

When you explore these different biomes you will want to take notes of what you see and hear. You can use your own notebook, or download our custom designed Biologist Notebook that can be used to document your travels and discoveries.


Desert Biome VR 360

This virtual biome is from the desert southwest of the United States. This biome is filled with desert plants and animals. See if you can find biologist Karla Moeller who is studying Gila monsters. Oh, and be sure to be on the lookout for the rattlesnake.

desert biome image link

As you explore this biome, take notes on the types of plants and animals you find. Here are a few questions to get you started.

  • How are the plants and animals different than in other biomes?
  • What would you expect to be the biggest challenges for plants and animals that live in the desert?
  • Can you find the rattlesnake, Gila monster, and bird nest?
  • Learn more about the desert biome.

Rainforest Biome VR 360

Pop into this virtual rainforest found in Panama. Listen to the animals and explore the lush green plant life. Biologists David Pearson, Karla Moeller, and Peter Martin are also there to show you around this biome. If you click on Karla, you can listen to her talking about what they are doing in the rainforest. Be sure to track down the howler monkey in this tour.

rainforest biome image link

As you explore this biome, take notes on the types of plants and animals you find. Here are a few questions to get you started.

  • How are the plants and animals different than in other biomes?
  • What would you expect to be the biggest challenges for plants and animals that live in the rainforest?
  • Can you find the termite nest?
  • What role do fungi have in the forest?
  • Learn more about the rainforest biome.

Savanna VR 360

This virtual biome allows you to explore the savanna of Kenya Africa. Join biologist Beth Pringle and her research team as they travel in the savanna where they are researching the relationship between some ants and trees that live in this biome. While they are out they also see many animals that make the savanna their home. Be sure to find Beth and click on her to hear her talk about the research and animals that are part of the virtual tour. Later, you can read her PLOSable story, Trees Get By with Ant Aides, to learn more about her research.

temperate forest image link

As you explore this biome, take notes on the types of plants and animals you find. Here are a few questions to get you started.

  • How are the plants and animals different than in other biomes?
  • What would you expect to be the biggest challenges for plants and animals that live in the savanna?
  • How many animals can you find in this trip?
  • What would it be like to live in the savanna?
  • Learn more about the savanna biome

Temperate Forest VR 360

This virtual biome allows you to explore the temperate forest in North America.  Not only can you jump from location to location, you can also travel in time. Look for the time travel icons that let you move between summer, fall, and winter seasons.

temperate forest image link

As you explore this biome, take notes on the types of plants and animals you find. Here are a few questions to get you started.

  • How are the plants and animals different than in other biomes?
  • What would you expect to be the biggest challenges for plants and animals that live in the rainforest?
  • What differences are there between the different seasons?
  • What animals or signs of animals can you find?
  • Learn more about the temperate forest biome.

Tundra VR 360

Tundras are cold, wind-swept areas where low-growing bushes, grasses, and mosses seem to rule the land. Travel around the country of Iceland to check out many faces of the tundra, but without the biting cold. This tour has some extra stops, so make sure to check the thumbnail menu so you don't miss any locations.

Temperate forest image link

As you explore this biome, take notes on the types of plants and animals you find. Here are a few questions to get you started.

  • How are the plants and animals different than in other biomes?
  • What would you expect to be the biggest challenges for plants and animals that live in the rainforest?
  • What differences are there between the different seasons?
  • What animals or signs of animals can you find?
  • Learn more about the tundra biome.

Credits:

Desert 360 images by CJ Kazilek.  Locations include Lost Dutchman State Park, Senoran Desert east of Picacho, South Mountain Park, Arizona. Audio recording at locations by CJ Kazilek.

Savanna 360 images by Beth Pringle.

VR-360 Video of hyena: Courtesey of Wildlife Protection Solutions.

Rainforest 360 images by Karla Moeller. Locations include Pipeline Road, Gamboa, Panama. Audio recordings at locations by CJ Kazilek.

Video host: David Pearson.

Temperate forest 360 images by CJ Kazilek. Locations include Mount Humphrey Arizona, and Keystone Colorado. Audio recordings at locations by CJ Kazilek.

Points of interest by: David Pearson, Karla Moeller, and Charles Kazilek.

View Citation

You may need to edit author's name to meet the style formats, which are in most cases "Last name, First name."

Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Virtual Biomes
  • Author(s): Charles Kazilek
  • Publisher: CJ Kazilek
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: August 24, 2016
  • Date accessed: December 3, 2020
  • Link: https://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/Virtual-360-Biomes

APA Style

Charles Kazilek. (2016, August 24). Virtual Biomes. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved December 3, 2020 from https://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/Virtual-360-Biomes

American Psychological Association. For more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/

Chicago Manual of Style

Charles Kazilek. "Virtual Biomes". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 24 August, 2016. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/Virtual-360-Biomes

MLA 2017 Style

Charles Kazilek. "Virtual Biomes". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 24 Aug 2016. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 3 Dec 2020. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/Virtual-360-Biomes

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/
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Use these 360 virtual explorations with a computer, smart phone, or Google Cardboard.

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