|Fallen trees are an important part of the temperate forest ecosystem, especially in temperate rainforests. When large trees fall, they create openings which allow sunlight down through the canopy of branches and leaves. The huge fallen logs are vital to the growth of young trees. The wood begins to decompose with the help of fungi and bacteria, and is soon covered with mosses, lichen, and tree seedlings.|
|The fallen trunk is a rich source of nutrients and an ideal habitat for new seedlings. In fact, several thousand young trees may begin to grow on a fallen log only fifty feet long.||A fallen log provides a rich habitat in plenty of sunlight. Photo by Maya Walters.|
|Most of these seedlings never reach full size, and the log itself has completely rotted away by the time that the few successful trees reach maturity. Several full-grown trees are sometimes growing in such a straight line that they appear to have been planted -- in fact it is because they grew along the straight trunk of a fallen tree. Some species are more dependent on this kind of situation than others -- some trees almost never begin growing directly on the ground, and require a fallen log to provide nutrients and keep them up off the layer of fallen leaves and needles on the forest floor.|
A rainforest in the temperate zone? Tropical rainforests are well known, but rainforests also exist in North America. True, there are some very significant differences between those of the tropics and these temperate forests, and nothing can match the tropics for variety of animal and plant species, but still there are enough similarities to call these northern areas rainforests.
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[broadleaf forests] [coniferous forests] [temperate rain forests]
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