What is a Biodome?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A biodome is a scientific facility which creates a replica of an ecosystem in a controlled environment indoors. Many of these structures are designed inside geodesic spheres, because these structures create large amounts of room which can be useful in creating a credible replica of a real ecosystem. One of the most famous biodomes is the Montreal Biodome, built in 1992, and the Biosphere 2 project in Arizona is another example of a biodome.

Research centers like labs may be attached to a biodome to make scientific study easier.
Research centers like labs may be attached to a biodome to make scientific study easier.

There are a number of reasons to build a biodome. Many of these structures are used for research and science education, and they can also be used for experimentation. Biodomes can be built anywhere in the world, including in dense urban areas, and their interiors can be precisely controlled, allowing people to visit sub-Arctic climates, rainforests, deserts, temperate forests, and other types of ecosystems. Some biodomes include several climate zones which visitors can travel through. Research facilities such as labs are often attached directly to the facility to make scientific study easier.

From an education perspective, a biodome can be a powerful tool, as it exposes visitors to ecosystems they might not be able to see without taking an expensive and grueling trip. The space can be filled with plants, animals, and natural features which can all be used as starting points to discuss the environment and the importance of environmental preservation. Many people visit biodomes as a form of recreation and they absorb interesting scientific information along the way.

These spaces are also very useful for scientific research. The ability to control the environment can allow scientists to play with environmental variables to see how they impact the ecosystem, and researchers can also study things like the spread of non-native plants, the role that introduced animals can play in an ecosystem, and the impact of pollution on the environment. Researchers can also test environmental remediation programs on a small scale in a biodome to determine whether or not they will be effective before being tried in the real world.

Areas with biodomes open to the public tend to advertise their facilities and make them easy to find. In some cities, visitors can purchase all access passes which will allow them to visit several attractions which may include things like biodomes along with science museums, art museums, and other institutions. If one has an opportunity to see a biodome, it is definitely worth a visit, as it can provide a fascinating glimpse into an ecosystem which might be otherwise inaccessible.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@NathanG - I’ve never seen the movie, but I think it was based on the real life Biodome 2 experiment in Arizona, which was no less successful. The biodome started out good, and was full of many different types of plant life, animals, algae, etc. However, it ended in failure (in my opinion) because the oxygen supply dropped to very low levels.

It got so bad that they had to pump in oxygen from the outside, which is ironic when you think about it. It defeats the whole premise of the biodome, which is that of an artificial environment that can sustain life.

Many theories have been put forward as to why the oxygen levels dropped, some advancing the idea that it had to do with the microbes in the soil. I’m not a scientist so I don’t know. I just think there are more variables in the environment than we realize.


I saw the Biodome movie once and all I can say was that the premise was good, but it was poorly executed. It’s basically about these two dimwitted guys who mistakenly step into a Biodome, thinking it to be a mall. They had been looking for a bathroom stop.

It turns into a comedy of errors where they get locked into the dome, courtesy of a couple of scientists who were the dome’s creators, and wreck all sorts of havoc and destruction in their wake.

They escape at the end and the dome is blown up-at least parts of it are. Oh, there’s always a boy meets girl, and this movie has that too. The two girls are environmentalists they’ve been trying to impress—and they don’t succeed in doing that. The movie was panned by the critics, and rightly so in my opinion.

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