Temperate Deciduous Forest

By Mary Caroline Glaze


Temperate Deciduous Forests are located in the eastern half of North America, the middle of Europe, Japan, East Asia, New Zealand, and the southern tip of South America. Deciduous Forests have trees with broad leaves like oak, elm, and beech. The amount of rainfall is relatively high. There are three different zones. The canopy layer usually has tall trees like maple, chestnut hickory, and oak. The shrub layer has small shrubs such as holly, hazel, and ash. The ground layer has grass, bluebells, and bracken.

Abiotic Factors

Abiotic factors in deciduous forests include rocks, soil, water, sunlight, climate, rain, and temperature. There is about 30 to 60 inches of rainfall per year. The average temperature is around 50 degrees fahrenheit. Most of the year it is rainy and very cool. Long growing seasons results in rich, fertile soil and good agricultural land. Most plants on the forest floor don't receive much sunlight because of the dense canopies.

Biotic Factors

Another name for deciduous forests is "broadleaf forests". Most tree species are tall and have large leaves like chestnut, elm, hickory, maple, oak and beech. These trees are key to the ecosystem because they're easy to digest for herbivores. The woods shrubs that include dogwood, honeysuckle, and rhododendron.

Many types of animals live in deciduous forests including bears, wood mice, deer, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions, and other types of birds, reptiles and insects.

Squirrels have developed a behavioral adaptation by storing their food and retrieving it later. They store nuts and seeds while there are many of them in the summer, and in the winter they burry them or put them in hollows of trees.

The oak tree has developed a physical adaptation to preserve energy during the colder months. When temperatures cools and sunlight isn't abundant, it cuts off the water supply to the leaves and seals off the area between the leaf stem and tree trunk. Without being able to carry out photosynthesis, leaves can't produce chlorophyll. This changes the leaf color to red, orange, and yellow during the fall.

Community Interactions

  • Primary producers: deciduous trees, shrubs, grasses
  • Primary consumers: raccoons, wood mice, deer, birds
  • Secondary Consumers: owls, skunks, foxes
  • Tertiary Consumers: bears, coyotes, bobcats
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Temperate Deciduous Forests are important because they provide oxygen that we need to breathe and take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. They provide raw materials including food and timber. Deciduous forests prevent erosion and are the habitat for many species of animals.

Human Impacts

Overhunting of many native species including deer, bears, and coyotes upsets the balance of the ecosystem. Cutting down forests for agricultural or residential use destroys the habitats of the animals that lived in it. Deforestation also harms the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels causes acid rain, which kill trees and other plants.


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Temperate Deciduous Forest Biome- Sleeping Giant Provincial Park