Taiga

Biome Project By: Michelle Manganiello

CLIMATE

The taiga is the largest biome. It is primarily a coniferous forest. There are two main taiga locations: the North American Taiga and the Siberian taiga, located in Russia.

The average temperature in the taiga is below freezing for 6 months of the year. The total yearly precipitation in the taiga is 12-33 inches. Most precipitation comes during the humid and warm summer months. Cold winters have some snowfall.

There are long nights in the winter and long days in the summers in the taiga because of the tilt of the earth on its axis. Winter lasts six to seven months, with its freezing temperatures. Summer is hot, rainy, and short. Fall is the shortest season for the Taiga. And then spring comes with its flowers and animals that are coming out of hibernation.

ECOLOGICAL CONCERNS

There are many threats to the taiga biome. Some human threats include: pollution caused by passing coal and oil power boats, the expansion of cities, towns, and population, and oil spills. Some other threats to the taiga are acid rain and lumber mills. In order to get the lumber, they need to chop down trees in massive amounts to the consuming rate of lumber and paper.

The taiga does have some endangered species. One of them is the Siberian crane. They are threatened by pollution and shooting by hunters. Another endangered species is the Amur, or the Siberian tiger. They are threatened by poachers.

The Taiga is very important. It filters millions of liters of water everyday. The taiga also has very many trees. Those trees remove a harmful gas called carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into oxygen.

FUN FACTS

  • The taiga is the world's largest biome.
  • The Cree Indians lived in The North American Taiga for centuries.
  • The taiga is prone to wildfires.
  • Taiga is the Russian word for forest.

PLANT LIFE

There is not a big variety of plant life in the taiga because the climate is so cold. Conifer trees are the most common trees in the taiga. These trees have cones. There are four types of conifers that are common in the taiga. Three of them are evergreens- spruce, fir, and pine. The fourth is the tamarack, a deciduous tree. Another tree that grows in the taiga is the Balsam Fir; this is a type of evergreen tree.

The evergreen trees use a big variety of physical adaptions. Some of these are their shape, leaf type, root system, and color. A lot of energy is used when growing new leaves. The plants get their energy from the soil and the sun. In the taiga, the ground freezes during the winter months and the plant roots are unable to get water. The adaption from broadleaf to narrow needle-like structures limits water loss through transpiration. Also, the evergreen needles do no contain a lot of sap, so this limits them from getting damaged by the freezing temperatures.

The tamarack trees do not use many physical adaptions in the taiga. These are deciduous trees. These broadleaf trees, under certain conditions, are able to survive the harsh climate of the taiga.

And finally, the Balsam Fir tree. This is a type of evergreen tree. You can find them in northeastern North America, Yukon, or Labrador. This tree is the least fire resistant of all the evergreens and and can take up to 30-50 years to start growing again. This tree is one of the major food supplies for moose in the winter and the wood of the Balsam Fir is sometimes used for lumber.

ANIMAL LIFE

The taiga has many animals. Because of the long and harsh winters in the taiga, some of them move south or hibernate. Some animals that live in the taiga include the American Black Bear, the Bald Eagle, the Bobcat, the Gray Wolf, and the River Otter.


American Black Bear: This animal has short claws which are good for climbing trees and its coat is well adapted to the cold weather because of its many layers of shaggy fur. This bear hibernates to avoid having to find food in the winter. The black bear is a predator and an omnivore. 75% of its diet is made up of plants and other vegetation, while the other 25% is made up of carcasses, honey, small mammals, and insects.

Bald Eagle: The Bald Eagle's toes have talons which are very strong claws and their excellent vision helps them hunt. The Bald Eagle can be found in most of the North American taiga but eighty percent of them are found in Alaska. Their nests are very large, they can be found in trees, cliffs, or the ground. It likes to eat dead animals but it sometimes eats live chicken or fish. They hunt in pairs and sometimes steal food from other eagles. Bald Eagles do not need to eat everyday. They are birds of prey and attack for their food.

Bobcat: The bobcat is also found in the taiga. They are most common in North America. Their teeth are sharp, they are useful to stab their prey. This cat has claws that are designed to climb and catch its prey. It can also run up to 30 mi/hr, this is its main way to get food. The bobcat's fur changes colors with the seasons. It has very good camouflage. They have great hearing too. The bobcat is a carnivore. Its diet consists of mice, squirrels, rabbits, and game birds. They are predators, rarely a prey. Bobcats are not endangered.

Gray Wolf: Grey wolves mainly live in the Siberian Taiga because of the long, cold winters and short summers. These wolves have long legs and long paws. Their coats are made of wooly fur to provide insulation and keep out moisture. The wolves hearing and smell are way sharper and keener than a human's is. They are also very fast. They're top speed is 40 mi/hr. Grey wolves live in groups called packs. These wolves are carnivores. They eat moose, caribou, other deer-like animals, and rodents. Grey wolves are at the top of the food chain and have no natural enemies. They are an endangered species in America.

River Otter: The River Otter lives in the North American Taiga. It has four webbed feet that help it swim. It does not migrate and it is nocturnal. River Otters are Omnivores. They eat fish, shellfish, crustaceans, snails, beetles, amphibians, and other small mammals. They have many adaptions to avoid danger. Their guard hairs keep it from freezing and use permeable sweat glands to mark territory, identify, or for defense. These animals are also endangered in the United States.

An example of cooperation in the taiga is a redwood tree and moss. The redwood provides the moss a place to live while the moss gives the tree protection. An example of competition in the taiga is the competition between red foxes and wolves for prey.

Some predator/prey relationships in the taiga include: the lynx and snowhare, a wolf and an elk, an owl and a mouse, and the American black bear and a fish.