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Lesson 8

 

 


 

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conifers and leafless trees in snow

 

 

The Evergreen

Coniferous Forest

       Evergreen coniferous forests, which are also called tiaga, begin where tundra gives way to trees. These forests grow over a large area of earth's land, extending toward warmer regions. The climate in evergreen forests is pleasant in summer, when temperatures may rise into the eighties and evenings are cool. Winters, however, can be very cold, dropping to -65 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas, but barely falling below freezing in others.

      Rainfall in this biome varies from 12 to 33 inches a year. Some of this moisture comes in the form of snow, and sometimes young trees are buried by snow in the winter. This covering of snow protects the trees from intense cold and dehydration by icy winds.

    Mountain sides are often covered by coniferous forests. The trees are tall and narrow, so that the snow will slide off the branches without breaking them. The trees grow close together, protecting one another from the wind. Their tough green needles last for more than one year. Needles resist frost and wind damage and conserve water while while making food through photosynthesis. They are ready to go to work as soon as the weather is warm enough. The trees also have thick bark that resists damage from summer fires. conifers by an alopine lake

    These evergreen trees make seeds in cones, and use the wind for pollination. The close-set trees make wind pollination efficient. In the spring the air is often golden with floating pollen that is released from the pollen cones.

    Evergreen trees developed on earth long before there were any flowers. Coniferous trees, ferns, and mosses are ancient plant families. Their ancestores were nibbled on by dinosaurs!

a stand of pines with snow  There are other plants in this biome. Grass grows here and there under the trees where the ground is dry and there is enough sunlight. In moister, more shaded areas, there are ferns and mosses. There are wild flowers, and a variety of deciduous bushes of various sizes. Fungi grow on fallen trees and help old needles and twigs to decompose.

   Animals must deal with the hardships of long, cold winters. Birds with strong beaks hunt for insects and pine nuts: squirrels scamper in the branches. Insects abound in the summer and winter over as eggs or grubs in the trees. Many birds leave when the cold weather comes: some animals hibernate. Porcupines continue to gnaw on the trees. The largest herbivores are deer, who can travel far in search of food. A few cougars hunt the deer.

 A Food Web in the Coniferous Forest

 An Energy Pyramid in the Coniferous Forest

           
Photographs from Corel CD-ROMs: for viewing only, not for downloading.     More Information.

© 1998. Elizabeth Anne Viau.  All rights reserved. This material may be used freely for instructional purposes but not sold for a price beyond the cost of reproduction. Please inform the author if you use it at eviau@earthlink.net