Australian ecosystems are usually described by a combination of living and non-living components – for example, tropical rainforest, temperate or dry sclerophyll woodlands, alpine meadows or mallee scrublands. The types of communities that live in these ecosystems will be dependent upon the range of temperature and rainfall as well as the soil type, which affects the plants that are able to thrive and therefor the animals that live there. Australian soils are mostly very nutrient poor, due to the fact that the landscape has been exposed to rain, wind and erosion for many millions of years, washing nutrients into the rivers and oceans. An exception to this is the areas where volcanic eruptions have brought nutrients to the surface, such as the western volcanic plains.
A biome is a major community of plants and animals classified according to its predominant vegetation and characterized by the adaptations of its organisms to that particular environment.