What is a Deciduous Forest?The term deciduous forest is used to describe a type of forest in which the dominantspecies of trees and other woody vegetation that make up the forest are those speciesthat shed their leaves during the cold months of the year and re-grows new leaves thenext spring in time for the growing season. Deciduous forests occur in several regionsthroughout the world including eastern North America, the British Isles, easternEurope, New Zealand, eastern Australia, and northeast Asia. These regions thoughdiverse, share some characteristics. They all experience seasonal changes in temperatureand precipitation. As a consequence, the trees found in deciduous forests are speciallyadapted to withstand these environmental changes throughout the year.
Adaptations to A Temperate Deciduous Forest Biome
Plant adaptationsDeciduous trees are trees that shed their leaves once a year at the approach of acold or dry season and later grow new leaves. (Plants that keep their foliagethroughout the year are called evergreens.) Deciduous trees usually have broadleaves e.g., ash, beech, birch, maple and oak.In SUMMER, their broad green leaves help capture sunlight needed to make foodthrough photosynthesis.As temperatures drop, the tree cuts off the supply of water to the leaves and sealsoff the area between the leaf stem and the tree trunk. With limited sunlight andwater, the leaves are unable to continue producing chlorophyll (green pigment inleaves) causing them to change into the beautiful red, yellow and orange leafcolours of FALL.
In WINTER, it is too cold for the trees to protect their leaves fromfreezing, so they simply loose them and seal up the places where theleaves attach to the branch. Losing their leaves helps trees to conservewater loss through transpiration. (Dried leaves continue to hang on thebranches of some deciduous trees until the new leaves come out.)Before the leaves die, some of the food material they contain is drawnback into the twigs and branches where it is stored and used the followingspring.The warmer temperatures of SPRING signal to the trees that they cangrow new leaves again, and restart the cycle.
In the deciduous forest there are many flowers like the passion berry and theblue lily. There are many other flowers but those are some of the main ones.The Deciduous forest does not have much vegetation but there are many treesthat contain outrageous amounts of flowers. Animals need these trees becausethey provide shelter and some use them for food and even water from the leaves.The trees adapt to this forest by having thick bark barriers on the trees to keep theanimals out and the trees from dying.
Deciduous forests are closer to the equator than the coniferous forests of the tiaga, and so they havea longer growing season. This gives the plants more time to produce food, and the forest yields about6000 Kilocalories per square meter per year for animals to eat. These primary producers form the firsttrophic level. The trees in the deciduous forest shed their leaves in winter. This prevents their branches from beingbroken by the weight of the snow, but also means that they have to grow leaves anew each spring. Thetrees and shrubs produce flowers, seeds, and fruits, such as wild cherries and persimmons. Many of theshrubs beneath the trees also produce fruit, such as huckleberries, blackberries, and thimbleberries.below the shrubs there are wild flowers, clumps of grasses, and ferns. Herbivores eat the leaves and fruits of the forest. Some of the animals that live in coniferousforests also live here. Squirrels, small rodents, and deer find food in the deciduous forest, and otherplant eaters, including many birds and insects, are also members of the community of primaryconsumers. These animals are on the second trophic level. These animals can use the 6000Kilocalories per square meters per year produced by the plants, but the most of this energy is used upin the processes of living, such as breathing, circulating the blood, growth, and reproduction. Only aboutone tenth of the energy is stored in the bodies of the herbivores, so animals eating these herbivores canonly get 600 Kilocalories per square meters per year from
The small carnivores, the secondary consumers, form the third trophic level. Many of these animals, such as woodpeckers and skunks, eat insects, while others, such as racoons, foxes, and snakes, eat the small rodents and frogs. The small carnivores have 600 kilocalories per square kilometer per year to eat, but, again, nine tenths of these Kilocalories are used up in keeping the animals alive. The bodies of the secondary consumers contain only 60 Kilocalories per square meter per year. This biome can support a fourth trophic level. Large carnivores, such asbears and cougars, form a layer of tertiary consumers. These animals can eatthe larger herbivores, such as deer, as well as anything else in the biome.However, only 60 Kilocalories per square meter are passed up to them from thelower levels, so they have to be able to cover a lot of ground to be able to findenough food to stay alive. Because these animals are at the top of the foodchain, they are called top predators. ENDS..