what’s in an environment?

What’s in an Environment?

An environment is made up of four main spheres :

  • Atmosphere = air
  • Biosphere = living things
  • Hydrosphere = water
  • Lithosphere = land
  • Sometimes we can add a fifth one, man-made features

All spheres of an environment are shown in this drawing. Can you name them? (c) J. Clark 2005

As a basis to understanding an environment, how it works together (ecosytem) and being able to care for it, we need to identify the features that make it up.

There are lots of possible features in each of the spheres. Here is a list of features common in Wimmera landscapes:


  • Climate type
  • Weather features eg Rainfall, temperature, wind


  • Key plants
    • Natives
      • Big trees eg Black Boxes, River Red Gums
      • Shrubs eg wattles
      • Grasses eg Wallaby grass
      • Ground cover eg Ruby Saltbush
      • Mosses and Lichens
      • Fungi (nb included under plants for simplicity  only)
    • Introduced
      • For crops
        • Timber eg pine plantation
        • Shrubs eg saltbush
        • Grains eg wheat, barley
        • Legumes eg lucerne
      • garden plants
        • Fruit trees eg Mulberries
        • Vegetables eg carrots
        • Flowers eg Roses, Jonquils
        • Herbs eg Parsley
      • Pest plants eg Horehound, Soursob
  • Key Animals
    • Natives
      • Mammals eg echinda, bats, dingoes
      • Marsupials eg kangaroos
      • Birds eg Kookaburras, Emus
      • Reptiles eg lizards
      • Amphibians eg frogs, tortoises
      • Invertebrates eg insects, worms, snails, spiders
      • Fish eg Catfish
    • Introduced
      • Mammals eg sheep, cattle, dogs, cats
      • Birds eg chickens, hens, ducks
      • Fish eg Redfin
      • Pest Animals eg rabbits, foxes


  • Streams (rivers, creeks)
  • Lakes
  • Swamps
  • Springs
  • Underground


  • Mountain
  • Hill
  • Cliff
  • Plain
  • Valley
  • Depression
  • Soils

Man-made features

  • Buildings
  • Roads, tracks, phone & power lines, pipelines, dams (infrastructure)

Try this out
1 Look at my drawing and for each sphere name its key features from the lists above.
2 Now you try! Make a drawing of an environment to show its key features.  (Use a photo of an environment, if you prefer) Before you start drawing you should go through the list to see what is there and think about how you will put it into the drawing as one image or a series of images.

This is a printer- friendly pdf version of this page” whats in an environment

This activity could be used as an education activity for the Australian Year of the Farmer and for the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity.

For more learning activities and refences return to 4learning main page

Page updated 15  Jan 2013
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