Taiga: Boreal Forests

coniferous forest food chains
The picture shows a food web in a temperate coniferous forest.

Coniferous forests are divided into two types - temperate forests (in mild climates usually along the coastlines) and boreal forests also called taiga (in sub-arctic climates that lie immediately south of the tundra).

Boreal forests are found in the northernmost parts of North America, Europe and Asia where summers are short and moist while winters are long and cold. Trees found in boreal forests include such evergreen conifers as balsam firs, black spruces, jack pines and white spruces. Nearly all conifers are evergreen.

They usually have needle-shaped or scale-like leaves with thick cuticles to reduce loss of water through transpiration. They typically have straight trunks with horizontal branches varying more or less regularly in length from bottom to top, so that the trees are conical in shape. Their pointy, triangular shape helps the trees to shed heavy snow which would otherwise break or damage the branches. Conifers have shallow root system that allows the trees to take in the water as soon as the surface ice/snow melts.

Few plants grow on the floor of boreal forests. Thick layers of old needles build up beneath the trees. These needles contain acids that are slowly released as the needles decay. Water carries the acids and dissolved minerals deep into the soil. As a result, the topsoil is often not nutrient rich thus unable to support many types of small plants. The plants at the base of these trees are usually ferns, lichens and mosses.

More animals of the Arctic (tundra) and their adaptations

Desert   |   Temperate Deciduous Forest   |   TAIGA: BOREAL FORESTS
Interactive Assessment Worksheets © by Alan & Hui Meng   |   World Biomes (forest, grassland, tundra & desert)