The Deciduous Forest Biome
temperate zone biome, rainfall varies from 30 to 60 inches a
year. Humidity may be high. Summers are warm, but winters are
cold, and there is often snow. There are four definite seasons.
This biome is home to many kinds
of deciduous flowering trees. Deciduous trees need a growing
season of about 120 frost-free days. In spring they draw on their
reserve food to make new leaves. This takes time in the cool
spring weather. By early summer their leaves have grown, and
the trees can use some of the food that the leaves create to
build up their energy reserves and make seeds. In the autumn,
the leaves change color as the tree draws as much nourishment
as possible from them. Then the leaves fall. When the snow comes,
only a little of it weighs down the bare branches.
Many of these trees rely on
insects for pollination. Some have beautiful flowers, and fruit
that is edible. Many of our fruit trees have come from wild varieties
that grow in deciduous forests.
Many small plants grow in the
shade under the trees. Ferns and wild flowers are abundant, and
there are many deciduous shrubs, including some berry bushes.
There is ample food for deer and smaller animals such as
raccoons, squirrels, foxes, wood mice and chipmunks. Insects
and birds abound. However, when the cold of winter comes, many
birds migrate southward and some small animals hibernate.
Larger animals include cougars and
bears. Human hunting has reduced their numbers, but they some
of them still live in the forests.
Melting snow in spring, and intermittent
rain during the summer, provide water for streams and ponds.
Water birds, insects, and fishes are found in this biome. Amphibians
such as frogs and salamanders find homes here, and so do some
lizards and small snakes. Decomposers include soil bacteria and
many kinds of fungi.
The long summers of this biome
support many life forms, but the cold winters still provide formidable
challenges. The cold weather and scarcity of food test the endurance
of the animals. Plants must find ways to ensure their survival
through dormant periods, and to produce enough seeds to continue
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