Europe AsiaCanadaAlaskanorthern Europe,In Alaska, Canada, and northern Asia
Because the northern coniferous forestsare located so far north, plants andanimals have adapted to survive.Extreme cold in long wintersand short summers with very short growingseasons. Winter days are that are very short,some with only 2 or 3 hours of sunlight.Summer days that are long, sometimeswith more than 20 hours of daylight.are winters so long and summers soshort?Survive what?Why
Because...as the Earth orbits the sun it istilted the same way all the time.winter in thenorthernconiferousforests.summer in thenorthernconiferousforests.
During summer in the northern hemisphereEarth’s tilt points the north pole toward thesun where it gets more sunlight. So summer inthe far north may last only 2-3 months but thedays are very long.Lots of sunlight
When Earth is on the opposite side of itsorbit, it is tilted is away from the sun andthe far north has winter for 6-7 months.Winter days are short--the sun may only risefor a few hours per day.Lots of dark..
Milder in summer but cool --averagetemperature 57 degrees F.Cold and snowy in winter-- averagetemperature 14 degrees F. (that is just 10ºdegrees warmer than the freezer in your house)if you lived there.
Not a lot of rain or snow. Averageannual rainfall 14-30 inches---morethan a desert, less than a deciduousforest and much less than a rainforest.Even with this small amount of precipitation,the coniferous forest has swampy regionscalled muskegs when the snow and ice melt.
Muskegs exist because insome areas beneath theforest floor, there is a layerof permanently frozen soilcalled permafrost; in otherplaces there may be a giantlayer of solid bedrock.Both the permafrost andbedrock stop water fromdraining through the toplayers of soil creatingthese shallow bogs ormuskegs.Muskegs can look likesolid ground, becausethey are covered withmoss, short grasses, andsometimes even trees.However, the ground iswet and spongy.
Conifer treespine firspruceThe major plants found in the Coniferous forests are:
Let’s now look at some adaptations thatconiferous trees have allowing them tosurvive in the harsh conditions of the farnorth.First, because Conifer trees mustphotosynthesize (make food) wheneverthey can, the leaves on coniferous treesstay green all year long.
summer winterConifer trees don’t drop leaves in the fall. Thegrowing season is so short that re-growing new leaveseach spring would be wasteful of the tree’s limitedtime for food production .
If the branches heldsnow, heavy wet snow would cause them tobreak.Conifers are triangular shaped so that their brancheswill shed snow in the winter.
Do you think the beautiful acacia treeof the African Savanna would be verywell adapted to the coniferous forest?Why?
The conifers haveadapted by growing smallneedle shaped leaves witha waxy coating which helphold water inside the tree.Most water in the soil of aconiferous forest is frozenduring winter and there isnot much precipitation insummer so coniferoustrees must survive withvery little water.As the soil is often shallow(permafrost and/orbedrock) coniferous treeroots often spreadhorizontally and stay nearthe surface.
These waxy leaves arenamed “needles” becausethey are shaped likeneedles.The tree’s name “conifer”comes fromthe word“cone” thestructureused forreproduction.Female coneMale cone
Seeds for growingnew coniferoustrees are formed inprotective conesWhen these seedsare scattered andgerminate, a newconiferous treeseedling grows.
Moose Beaver Wolf Black bearHawk Owl LynxWolverineRed SquirrelSnowshoe Hare
Decomposers soil bacteria nematodesworms, protozoa,fungiConifer trees, shrubs,grass, ferns, mossPlant eaters/primary consumersA food web in the coniferous forest biomeSmall predators,carnivores, insectivoreswolves LynxLarge predators
With long cold wintersand scarce food, fewanimals winter in thenorthern coniferousforest. (more than 300 species of birds and32,000 species of insects).In summer,however, a hugenumber of insects livein the marshy muskegs.And millions of birdsfrom all over migratethere to feed on theinsects.
only to return again thefollowingspring.Come winter, most of these birds migrate(move) south in order to find warmer weather,food and shelter....
With winters so long and cold in the northernconiferous forests almost no cold bloodedreptiles and amphibians live there year round.However, some warm blooded animals haveadapted to living in these harsh conditions.During winter, along with the cold,food is very hard to find for all animals.
As fall temperatures cool, birdsand mammals that live all yearlong in the far northern forestsgrow extra fur or feathers.This extra layer of fur or feathersprovides insulation that helpsprevent body heat from escapingduring extreme winter conditions.
Most year-round inhabitants of theconiferous forest, including herbivores,omnivores and carnivores, really stuffthemselves during the late summer and fall,eating all the foodthey can get.They are storing foodin their bodies as fat,which of course causessome serious weightgain.
Notice pictures of this black bear in the latefall and again in early spring. Bears can loseup to 40 percent of their weight between falland spring.full hungry
We shall see that many animals livingthrough the winter in the northernconiferous forests are able to survive bystoring food, either like this in their bodiesor in caches.During the cold winter when little food wasavailable the bear lived on the extra layers offat she had piled on in the fall. In addition toproviding energy, those layers of fat helpedher keep warm during the cold bitter winter.
Like the bear, otheromnivores such asraccoons and skunks eata lot of food in the fall.They store this extrafood as fat preparing fora long cold winter whenlittle food is available.
During the winter,they sleep in densliving off their storedfat, coming out onlyoccasionally to lookfor food.
Two large herbivores, the moose and the elklive in the northern coniferous forest.elkmooseSince they don’t do extended sleeps during thewinter, they depend on extra hair and fat tokeep them warm during the cold winter.
In summer, moose eat large quantities of waterplants from bogs or streams while elk eatprimarily grasses. During winter both mustsurvive on mostly twigs and bark.The moose and elk survive on very differentdiets depending on the season.
Snowshoe hares are alsoherbivorous. They feed ongrass, flowers, and othergreenery in summer. Inwinter, they survive onbuds, soft bark, and twigs.
For getting around in deep snow, both mooseand snowshoe hares have very wide feet tokeep them from sinking in the snow. Comparethe examples. Another adaptation.Moose hoofJack RabbitSnowshoe Rabbit
The abundant red squirrel’ssummer diet includes seeds,fruit, nuts, bark, buds, fungiand insects. Occasionallythey eat birds eggs, youngbirds and young mice butseeds inside a cone are by fartheir favorite food bothsummer and winter.Red squirrels build nests inthe conifer trees wherethey raise their babies.
Seed eating birds that live in the coniferous foresthave beaks that are adapted to reaching in betweenthe scales of cones to reach the seeds.The Red Crossbill has abill in which the upperand lower tips crossover each other. Thebird bites between thescales of a cone andpries them apart byopening its bill. Then itdislodges the seed withits tongue.
Taiga Voles are cute littleherbivores that live nearstreams and muskegs. Theyeat mostly moss and grass.Taiga voles dig undergroundburrows where they buildnests of dry grasses.During August andSeptember, they store foodin these burrows. Duringthe winter five to ten voleshuddle together for warmthin a nest and share thestored food.
And, at the top of the food chain:and the hawk owl.In the of northern coniferous forest we findthe grey wolf,the lynx,
Some predatory birds suchas the North Hawk Owl liveyear round in the northernconiferous forest and growextra feathers in winter. ANorth Hawk Owls huntsmainly voles, red squirrelsand snowshoe hares.
Lynx are covered with beautiful thick fur that keepsthem warm during frigid winters. Their large furrypaws hit the ground with a spreading toe motion thatmakes them function as natural snowshoes.Lynx eat mice, squirrels, and birds, but preferthe snowshoe hare.
Grey wolves, who must continue to huntthrough the winter, do grow an insulatinglayer of hair to keep warm.They hunt in packs. Whenever they can bringdown an elk or moose, the pack eats well for alittle while.