The Temperate Forest Biome

by Ms. O'Neil & Mr. Goguen

What is it like there?

Climate

Within a temperate forest it is often cooler than surrounding areas. This biome can experience 4 seasons. Winters are usually cool to cold but summers can be warm to hot. The precipitation amounts can be different in the two kinds of temperate forests. A deciduous forest will often receive 40 - 60 inches of rainfall but a coniferous forests get far less (usually no more than 20 inches). Both forests will experience snow in the winter. Temperatures can range from below freezing in the winter months to 80s and 90s in the summer. Rain and snow storms are common. An occasional blizzard, hurricane or tornado might also strike these forest areas.

Landscape

A temperate forest can thrive in different landscapes. The surrounding land could be flat, hilly or mountainous. In a deciduous forest the soil is generally moist and the trees lose their leaves in the Fall after displaying wonderful colors. A coniferous forest has drier soil with trees that keep green needles year round. There are five layers in both forests. From bottom up they are are the floor, herb, shrub, understory and finally the canopy. You can expect to see lots of vegetation such as high and short trees, shrubs, flowers, mosses, lichens, and fungi.

Where are they located?

Where in the world?

  • Mostly in northern hemisphere
  • North America (not Mexico or southwest USA)
  • Europe
  • eastern Asia
  • Southern South America
  • New Zealand
  • northern Africa

Vegetation

How do plants survive?

The temperate forest is filled with low, medium and high growing plant life. All plants get water and nutrients from the soil through their roots. Some of these plants are flowering such as wildflowers. Some wildflowers are in a race to grow, bloom and produce seeds before the sun is blocked out by the leaves of higher growing plants and trees. Deciduous trees have broad leaves which need lots of rain to survive. They change color in the fall and drop to the ground. Conifers grow in colder climates. Their needle-like leaves have a waxy coat that protects them from snow and ice. Also, strong cones protect the seeds. Chlorophyll is a chemical in leaves that give the green color. The chlorophyl soaks up the sun's energy and combined with water and air produce food for the plant. In the fall, buds form which is a necessary step for the leaves and flowers to be ready for spring. In the winter, many plants become inactive and dormant. Perennial plants have live roots underground but annuals grow from seeds left behind by their parents.

Animal Life

How do animals survive?

Many animals make their home in the temperate forest. The abundance of trees, shrubs and forest floor growth provide unique opportunities for shelter, food and water. Birds and squirrels find the understory a safe place for nesting. Butterflies and other insects prefer the sunny canopy for munching on leaves. Insect eating birds can be found here too. Deer and bears take advantage of the leaves and tender twigs of shrubs. The forest floor offers many options for a safe home. Snags (dead trees) might provide shelter for a red fox pup. Not to be overlooked are the billions of microscopic organisms and small animals that live in the top layer of the soil. They survive by consuming dead plants and animals.

Food Chains