Cold Climate Forest
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Cold Climate Forests: The Taiga
This cold climate that supports coniferous trees (which means that they carry cones) is found at very high latitudes extending across Eurasia and North America. Rainfall in this climate is moderately high but is spread throughout the course of the year, with snow covering the ground in winter. Very little water is evaporated by the sun, thus ponds, lakes and bogs also known as "muskegs" are found everywhere, especially in glacially carved areas.
Vegetation found in the Taiga
Trees in the taiga (Taiga is a Russian word) use a lot of energy to grow their leaves, thus they have found a way to keep their needles all year round. This way, when the sun comes out again in the spring these trees are already gathering much needed sunlight instead of wasting more energy to grow new leaves. In addition they have adapted their needles to be filled with a chemical that repels grazing animals, and their thick bark resists the loss of moisture in the cold winters. Trees of this biome are also known as boreal or the Northern coniferous forests, usually have shrubs underneath them with blueberries (which is a favorite food of many animals) which act as heath plants.
The days in the Taiga are very short in the winter, as short as six hours. In the summer the days lengthen and plants grow rapidly in the 70°F weather.
Along the river banks throughout the taiga, willows and many other well known trees can be found. Leaves cover the ground for the relatively low temperature and the acidic soil slows down the process of decay.
Many animals migrate to the taiga in the summer months. However, those who do not have learned to adapt to the cold. Moose, wolves, woodland caribou, wood bison, black bear, marten, lynx, and the arctic ground squirrel are common, although they are not as abundant as the mammals living in the grasslands and the savanna biomes. Most of the animal activity in the taiga is seasonal, with large quantities of birds, such as the redpoll, raven, gray jay, red-throated loon, northern shrike, sharp-tailed grouse, and fox sparrow, present only in summer. Also the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and osprey which are fish eaters, live in this biome.
For the animals that stay in the taiga during the winter months, conserving heat is one of the most important steps of survival. Most animals go into long-term hibernation and other animals such as the Canadian Lynx grow an insulating layer of fur or in other cases feathers. In order to conserve heat some animals have a rounded body structure, with shortened limbs to create less heat loss from long limbs and skin surfaces. Also other animals grow fur or plumage that camouflage with the snowy white background.
Activities of Humans
This biome has a population of approximately 21,400 people, and 60% are aboriginal. Major communities are Inuvik Hay River, Fort Nelson, Fort Simpson, and Fort Smith. Fishing, hunting and trapping are common activities that take place in these communities. Also, tourism, mining, oil and gas extractions and forestry are main activities which occur in this biome. Many of these human activities affect the natural systems in this ecosystem.
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