Of all the different biomes on the planet, the one that covers the most land area are Forests. While many people have learned all about how important Tropical Rainforests are, they are usually foggier on the details of the other two types, which are Temperate and Boreal.
Let’s take this opportunity to explore these lightly understood, yet important, different forest types.
What is a Biome?
First though, we’d better establish exactly what makes up a biome. A biome, to put it simply, is a collection of different ecosystems that share similar characteristics. In this case, the biome that we will be looking into today is the Forest biome.
This is characterized by an abundance of animal and plant life, specifically trees. The different Forest types are determined by their geographic locations, which is separated by their latitude.
Temperate forests are located in many different locations. These include North America, Asia, and Europe. They have well defined seasons, and change accordingly throughout the year. They are called temperate forests because they do not experience extreme temperatures.
They are usually frost-free for four to six months during the year, which provides for a growing season that lasts for over half of the year.
The soil is relatively rich, mostly due to it being constantly enriched with decaying leaf litter. The trees in temperate forests shed their leaves each year when the weather gets cold, which is when the trees stop producing chlorophyll.
This allows for lots of different plants to take root within temperate forests. The canopy of these trees allows for light to pass down to the forest floor, which allows for even more plant growth. This can make hiking through a temperate forest difficult!
Many different animals live within temperate forests. This can include, but is not limited to: mice, rabbits, squirrels, birds, deer, bears, mountain lions, snakes, turtles, foxes, and wolves.
The trees that grow in temperate forests consist mostly of broad leaf species that lose their leaves annually, such as: oak, hickory, maple, hemlock, cottonwood, elm, willow, and beech.
Boreal or Taiga Forest
Boreal forests, or taiga, as they are sometimes called, represents the largest terrestrial biome. They occur in large swaths of Europe, Asia, and North America. The seasons in this type of forest are punctuated by short, wet, and only slightly warm summers, and long, cold, and dry winters.
The growing seasons in boreal forests is very short, lasting a little over 100 days. Though there are some large cities within the boreal biome, it is mostly uninhabited by people.
The temperatures in a boreal forests are very low, with it remaining below freezing for about six months. This means that most of the precipitation that they receive comes in the form of snow.
The soil in these forests is extremely thin, nutrient poor, and acidic. This makes it impossible for lots of plants to grow.
Animals that are present in boreal forests include birds, moose, bear, deer, lynx, fox, wolves, and various rodents.
The only flora is limited to cold-tolerant evergreens with needle-like leaves. These include pines, firs, and spruces.