Biomes vs Terrains in Pokémon GO

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USER GUIDE | Submitted by wafflewarrior0323The term “Biomes” in Pokémon GO is often confused with what is often called “Terrains”. The technical definition of “Biomes” states that a Biome is a property of of a spawn point that determines what Pokemon that spawn point generates.

This means you do not have to be in a certain environment that would match the type of Pokémon as if in the real world. The term Terrain is the complete opposite.With Terrains, your real life location and geography is important. We’ve observed that spawn points throughout the world always adhere to a certain Terrain, but not all of them have biome specific information.

Simply said, it means that if you were living near a lake or an ocean, the number of water type Pokemon you encounter would outnumber many of the other types by a decent margin.

Another example would be if you were living in a lush Forest or Jungle area (and somehow managed to have cell signal). In Forest and Jungle areas, we’ve consistently observed an increased number of grass Pokémon, with their numbers roughly staying at 23% – 27% of encountered Pokémon.

The core series FireRed and LeafGreen games were the first to introduce the concept of Terrains, and by everything we know, Pokémon GO follows roughly the same logic, with the exception that Pokémon GO Terrains overlap on edges:

  • Grassland
  • Forest
  • Water’s-edge
  • Sea
  • Cave
  • Mountain
  • Rough-terrain
  • Urban
  • Rare (not an actual Terrain, more like a category)

How do I find my local Terrain

Finding your local Terrain can be quite simple if you’re lucky enough to live in a Sea or Water Edge terrain, as the spawns are self-explanatory.

However, it’s quite difficult to accurately distinguish between other types of underlying Terrains in an area, mainly due to two reasons:

  1. Pokémon often have Double Typing (Dual Typing)
  2. Type specific Events skew the results

Double Typing is especially a problem as a number of common Pokémon has more than one type. For example, a Pidgey, who is easily the most common Pokemon in Pokemon GO, has flying and normal dual typing, making it hard to tailor a Terrain around Pidgey and use him as a differentiator.

The lack of accurate and concise type-terrain correlation leads to several questions:

  • Does Pidgey belong to the Grass field terrain or the Urban terrain?
  • Do all flying types belong to the Urban terrain?
  • Is there even a Grass field terrain?

Additionally, type specific events increase spawn rates of one or more Pokémon types, making it even more difficult to figure out what Terrain is where. Events we have already seen include:

The upside of identifying Terrains over Biomes is the fact that most terrains are kinda Self Explanatory. If you’re at the beach, the Terrain is a Water’s Edge terran, if you’re at Sea, it’s a Sea terrain.

We will be exploring each Terrain in detail in upcoming articles.

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  1. Interesting is that if I go into the forest, wild Pokemon spawn exclusively along the OpenStreetMap finest dotted trails (like in Global Nest Atlas of Silph Road, or the app OsmAnd)

    • They pushed out a change several months ago that specifically increased spawn points along marked walking trails. Unfortunately, cell coverage and lack of pokestops is a major problem with these.

  2. Another observation: In my work town all events spawned their associated Pokemon, but not the Global Bloom.

  3. Halloween is not a “type” event. It spawned many Ghastly, Drowzee, Cubone, and Meowth. Dark types didn’t even exist during it.

        • That’s irrelevant to Pogo. When the game launched all of the pokemon came with their current-generation typing. Magenmite was Steel which didn’t exist til Gen 2, and all of the fairy pokemon have that typing which wouldn’t exist until gen 6.

    • correct – all four of those pokemon were more common (along with Zubats IIRC) and they’re all different types.

      Same with the Valentine’s Day event that Oscarv mentioned – pink pokemon but of varying types.

    • True, though it did skew “ghost” type due to the fact that every ghost type at the time was included.

    • I spent the day in Ocean City, Maryland, about two months ago, and spent a couple hours on the boardwalk. Despite having never come across any before, I caught more than enough Magnemites and Voltorbs to evolve them and caught a couple Electabuzzes. Went down to Virginia Beach, Virginia, the next day, spent a few hours on the boardwalk, and not a single electric type.

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