Taiga Forest

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The taiga forest is also called the boreal forest. It is made up of almost a continuous growth of coniferous forest.

This biome is in the Northern Hemisphere and covers the land between tundra and temperate forest. The taiga biome is found in Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia, and the Siberia region of Russia.

The region that taiga forest covers was completely covered by glaciers in previous ice ages.
Taiga Distribution

Just beneath the top layer of soil is a section of permafrost. Permafrost is a section of soil that is permanently frozen. Permafrost limits the ability of roots to grow deep into the ground.

Permafrost and the large amount of rock found in the taiga soil limits water from draining from the region. This can create special bogs found only in the taiga called muskegs. Muskegs can look like solid land, as they are covered with moss, grass, and even trees.

Climate

Taiga forests are known for their long, cold winters. Winter can last up to six months, and there may be only 50 to 100 days that are frost free during the short summer season.

Temperatures can vary, but they are usually just a few degrees above freezing to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Extremes can occur; for example, one region in Russia has recorded temperatures of 90 degrees Fahrenheit and -90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Late September in the fjords near Narvik

Day length can affect the temperature of the taiga. Its high geographic location means the taiga has long winter nights with very short days. The shorter days allow the snowpack to last between five and eight months of the year.

Plants

The taiga is made mostly of thick coniferous forest. The most common trees are spruce, pine, and fir.

Coniferous trees have needles instead of leaves. While most trees with leaves will lose them during autumn months, coniferous trees never lose their needles.
Taiga spruce forest in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

The coniferous trees of the taiga have adapted to survive the region. Their triangle shape lets them catch as much of the sun’s rays as possible. The shape also allows the tree to shed snow without breaking branches. Coniferous needles also have very little sap so that they are less likely to freeze during the cold winters.

The taiga is a difficult place for plants that are not coniferous trees to survive. The larch is the only deciduous tree that is found in the taiga.

One third of the taiga floor is covered by moss. Lichen is also found on the forest floor as well as on many tree trunks.

Animals

Adaptations are necessary for animals to survive in the taiga. The most obvious adaptations have to do with surviving the cold. Other animals have adaptations that allow them to walk on the snow without falling through, or change the color of their fur to blend in.

The birds located in the taiga mostly eat rodents. Many birds migrate south during the cold winter months.

The largest animal found in the taiga is the moose. Moose prefer to eat the leaves of trees and shrubs found near streams or bogs.

The carnivorous animals of the taiga are largely made up of bears, lynx, and wolves.

Interesting Facts:

  • The word “taiga” is Russia
  • The largest stretch of taiga is found in Russia, running 3,600 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Ural Mountains
  • Thawing permafrost can cause trees to appear to be tipping over
  • The largest cat in the world is the Siberian tiger – a native of the taiga

Earth Science

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