Minnesota Coniferous Forest Biome

By Josh Lokken

The Coniferous Forest Biome is located in northern Minnesota. The climate of this biome is categorized as cool and moist. Winters are generally cold and summers are slightly cooler than normal. Storms and fires are common and typically happen in sequence. For example, a tornado will knock down trees and then the sun will dry out the trees on the forest floor. A fire can ignite in the right conditions, thus consuming the downed forest. There is a thin layer of soil followed immediately by bedrock. The glaciers swept down from Canada and took away almost all of the quality soil and pushed it further south.

Biotic Factors

Large evergreen trees, sometimes referred to as softwoods, dominate the Coniferous forest canopy. Bear cones are also very prevalent. Feathermoss covers the forest floor while species such as dogwood and honeysuckle form the shrub layer. Larix laricina, commonly known as tamarack, is a tree that makes up the forest canopy. Lonicera Caprifolium is commonly known as honeysuckle and makes up part of the shrub layer of the forest. Gaultheria procumbens, commonly known as wintergreen, makes up part of the ground floor of the forest. The wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) is a small amphibian that loves the forest and has a high cold tolerance so it can survive the winters. The gray wolf (Canis Lupus) or timber wolf is also found in this biome. The gray wolf has long bushy gray fur with a desire to hunt large prey and is typically the apex predator. The boreal chickadee (Poecile Hudsonicus) is a small bird with a black throat and short bill. The chickadee also weighs an average of 10 grams and lives in a nest inside of a tree.

Abiotic and Biotic Connections

The wide range of possible temperatures in the Coniferous Forest forces animals to adapt and have a higher tolerance for temperature swings. The gray wolf develops an insulating coat for the winter months but sheds the heavy coat for a lighter and sleeker summer coat when the temperature starts rising. The tree canopy limits the amount of sunlight that reaches the forest floor. Many of the mosses and shrubs are forced to live with less opportunity for photosynthesis and some perish because of this lack of sunlight. The absence of sunlight on the forest floor also helps retain water in the soil because there is no sun to dry out the soil thus aiding plant and tree growth.