Deciduous Forest Biome

Letjenje has a small deciduous forest biome on the eastern slope of Mt. Kaliki.  There, the air is cool due to the high elevation, and drier as it is in the rain shadow. 
The biome has the closest to four distinct seasons on the entire planet, which provide at least 120 days for the growing season.  The spring is warm, summer is warm to hot, but in fall, the temperatures become markedly cooler. This has caused plants to adapt by losing many of their leaves, much as they do on the Earth, and then growing new leaves in the warm spring air.   In the winter, temperatures are cold (by Letjeje standards), though they are never cold enough for snow.  The rain that falls mainly from fall through spring amounts to between 30 and 60 inches per year.
The biome supports trees that flower, fruit, or produce   berries, as well as ferns and wildflowers that grow between them.  The animals have adapted to this region and its winter dormancy.  Below is a composite picture of the biome followed by a more detailed description of the organisms found there.
   
Primary Producers  
One of the plants that grows here is a small tree called Coneda.  Shown at right, it grows to a height of about 8 feet.  Its broad leaves capture the sun's light, but turn brown and fall to the ground during the fall.  In the winter, the tree is dormant, but new leaves bud every spring.  The berries that grow on it provide food for small animals as well as allow the tree to reproduce.

Another plant found in the biome is Fortuna.  This large 5-7 foot fern like plant (seen at left) grows to such heights so that it can receive enough sunlight.  It evolved stomata to exchange gas molecules with the air as well as a waxy cuticle on its fronds to help prevent water loss.  It reproduces by spores found on the underside of the fronds  and the species has male and female forms. 
Pickles, as shown at right, is the skyscraper of the biome.  The tree stands at heights of up to 100 feet and is supported by branching roots that resemble spiders' legs.  This shallow root system enables the giant to gain the nutrients it needs from the soil for its smooth, oval leaves to use to make food.  The tree provides an excellent nesting site for Cisco as well as food for Roth.

Primary Consumers  
One organism that uses the biome's plants for food is the parasite, Roth.  Seen at right, it is a 3 inch long, 8 legged, horned creature with a dark, hard exoskeleton that protects it as well as helps it to blend in with the plant's bark. It uses its horn to drill into trees, such as Pickles and Coneda, and then eats the sap.  As these trees  lose their leaves and go dormant, Roth lays its eggs under the bark and the larva emerge in the spring.   
Cisco, the bird shown at left, resides in the deciduous forest from the spring to the fall.  It makes its nests in tall trees like Pickles, and eats the berries of Coneda.  At times, it will eat the tender leaves of Fortuna as well as small insects.  The exoskeleton of Roth is too hard - Cisco does not eat it.  In the fall when Pickles and Coneda shed their leaves, Cisco loses the shelter the leaves provided.  Additionally, there are no more berries for it to eat, so it flies to warmer climates until the warmer spring weather (along with new leaves and berries) returns.
Secondary Consumers  
Salam is a slow, carnivorous organism that lives in the deciduous forest biome.  It is about 12 inches long and weighs 3 pounds.  It is a nocturnal animal and has large eyes to see its prey with, as seen at right.  One of the organisms it eats is Roth.  If a tree that Roth is living on dies, then the organism must move to another tree.  During this trip, Roth may burrow into the ground for protection, but Salam is fairly successful at finding the hiding Roth. Part of its success is the fact that it hunts at night when Roth is inactive while its dark spots help it to blend in with the shadows and dappled moonlight.

Above is a food web for the deciduous forest biome.  The three plants are Coneda, Fortuna, and Pickles, and serve as the source of energy for the animals in this environment.  Roth, the parasite, eats the sap of Pickles, while Cisco, the bird, eats the leaves of Fortuna as well as the berries of Coneda.  Salam, the carnivore, eats small insects such as Roth.

Above is an energy pyramid for the deciduous forest biome.  The energy comes from the primary producers, Coneda, Pickles, and Fortuna.  These plants are eaten by the primary consumers - Roth and Cisco, while Roth is eaten by the secondary carnivore, Salam.  Note that as you go higher in the pyramid, the amount of energy, measured in KiloCalories, decreases.

 

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page by Jennifer Lewis