By Collin Matthews

What is the taiga?

Coniferous forests/ boreal forests / taiga are the biggest portion of forests on the globe. Taiga comes from the Russian language, a word that means "forest". The taiga is the largest biome on Earth. The taiga is located near the top of the earth, just below the tundra. The taiga experiences lots of snowfall in the winter. The taiga does not support a lot of life, but there are some animals that mostly migrate here during the summer. The taiga encompasses 29% of the globe's forests.

The biome that exists above the taiga is the tundra. The tundra differs from the taiga because the taiga has more precipitation and more plant growth, as well as warmer temperatures. The biome below the taiga are grasslands. Grasslands are different because they have warmer temperatures and less precipitation. Temperate forests are different from coniferous forests because coniferous forests have much colder weather and receive less precipitation.

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The Northern Taiga Pine Forests

Abiotic Factors

The taiga is very rocky and often features mountainous regions. The soil in the taiga is very acidic. This acidic soil makes it very hard to grow anything in this environment, so it could not support any farming. This also prevents a lot of plants to grow there, except for certain trees that are well adapted to survive in these harsh conditions.

It rarely rains in the taiga; sometimes it will rain during warm summer days, but most precipitation in the taiga is snow. Winters can experience massive amounts of snow in certain areas. Certain parts of the taiga in Canada receive upwards of 400 inches of snow per year. The taiga is still suspect to warm weather; Canada will sometimes receive extreme heat waves that feature weather that is extremely unusual for the area. This usually can occur in the Yukon province of Canada, the northwest most area directly to the right of the United States state of Alaska. During the summer, the weather can sometimes become extremely hot. The taiga can experience temperatures in excess of 80 degrees on occasion during the summer, even though there are extremely cold temperatures in the winter.

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Biotic Factors

Common trees found in the taiga include: balsam firs, black spruce, eastern red cedars, jack pines, and white poplar. These plants are adapted so that they can survive in the very cold climate found in the taiga. For instance, Siberian spruces are shaped like cones so that snow will fall off of them. Most plants cannot survive the harsh winters experienced in these forests. There is a relatively low level of biodiversity in plants in coniferous forest.

Some animals found in the taiga include: american black bears, bald eagles, bobcats, gray wolves, grizzly bears, red foxes, and wolverines. There is low biodiversity in animals in the boreal forests, because most animals could not survive in the extreme cold. The cold makes it hard for animals to eat plants, so most of the animals here of carnivores. These animals are well adapted to live in these areas because they have lived here for a long time and have passed on traits to each generation, and natural selection has led only the best adapted animals to survive in this area.

The population of humans that live permanently in boreal forests is low. Some more temperate areas of the boreal forest, like the city of Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada are home to larger amounts of people; but, for the most part, the climate of this area is unsuitable for most people to live in and undesirable for most people.

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Community Interactions

In coniferous forests, there are lots of symbiotic relationships. One example of mutualism in the boreal forest is fungi growing on the roots of trees. The fungi get a place to live and get nutrients produced by the tree. In turn, the fungi makes nutrients that are utilized by the tree. An example of a symbiotic relationship that shows commensalism are grey owls that live in trees. The grey owls are given a place to live that protects them from the harsh environment and other predators. The trees are neither helped nor harmed by the presence of the owls. An example of a parasitic relationship in these forests are tics living on deer. The tics feed on the deer's blood, and the deer are hurt and can become sick from the tics biting them.

Why is this biome important?

The taiga is a very important habitat for some animals. Trees in the taiga are also logged and utilized by humans as a means for building houses and other buildings. In Sweden, 12% of the country's exports come from the forest industry. In Sweden, people use much more wood than we do in the United States. If the taiga forests in Sweden were damaged, the economy of Sweden would take a huge hit and lots of people could lose their jobs. This is not the case only in Sweden; other countries also rely on the taiga for business. Canada relies on wood from the taiga and sap from trees that grow in coniferous forests. Without these, countries would have damaged economies. Countries that trade with countries that produce wood would also no longer have countries to trade with and get wood, resulting in loss to those countries as well.

Human Impacts

Humans are causing climate change and it is damaging the taiga. The pollution of the taiga is causing rapid deterioration to the taiga, especially in Asia. Logging in these forests can also lead to damage in the forests if selective logging practices are not used, and people carelessly cut down trees without replacing them. People are also moving to some of the more temperate areas of the taiga, and in turn destroying the natural landscape of the area.

The best way to turn around the damage that is occurring in the taiga is to practice selective logging techniques so that massive tree loss does not occur. Another thing to do is to prevent disposal of waste in the forests. People need to be careful when clearing land and refrain from damaging animal habitats.

Taking care of the Taiga | Global Ideas

Sources Cited

30 fascinating facts about the boreal forest. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from

Taiga Plants. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from

TAIGA - Forest Fair. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from

Community Interactions. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from

Biodiversity in the Boreal Forest: Trees. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from


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