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Taiga Biome Essay

1752 words - 7 pages

The Taiga Biome is a large, naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major part of both Siberia and North America. It is usually found at high elevations at more temperate latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the largest terrestrial biome on earth, covering around 50 million acres of land (NP, UC Santa Barbara). It is known for its subarctic climate that ranges between -51 to -1 °C in the winter and -21 to 7 °C in the summer. The two main season found in the taiga are summer and winter as autumn and spring are usually very short and barely noticeable. Winter makes up around six months of the year, with only around 50-100 frost-free days during the summer. Summer is also the season during which the taiga receives the most precipitation in form of rain. The remainder is made up of snow and dew, which adds up to around 30-85cm of precipitation yearly (NP, S.L. Woodward).

The taiga is also known as boreal forest and is mainly distinguishable due to its abundance of carnivorous forests that are primarily made up of conifer or cone-bearing trees (NP, UC Santa Barbara). Three of the four most common conifers are evergreens, namely spruce, fir, and pine. The fourth conifer is the tamarack, also known as the larch, which is a deciduous tree. Other types of deciduous trees that can occasionally be found in the taiga include oak, birch, willow, and alder trees. The taiga does not feature a wide variety of plant life in comparison with other biomes due to its harsh climate; thin, acidic, and nutrient-lacking soil; and rocky terrain.

As a result of these factors, the flora has adapted to these conditions in a variety of ways including their shape, leaf type, root system, and color. One of the most prominent adaptations is that evergreens do not lose their leaves in the cold climate, which means that they do not have to regrow them in the spring. This is beneficial, as the trees need energy from the sun and from the soil to regrow leaves. As the taiga does not receive a lot of sunlight and the soil is usually low on nutrients, the trees are not provided with large amounts of energy to grow. Therefore, by keeping their leaves, the trees are able to conserve more energy for structural growth as opposed to leaf growth. Another notable adaptation is the change from broadleaf to narrow needle-like structures in order to minimize water loss through transpiration, which is the evaporation of water through aerial parts of the plant. Despite the fact that the taiga has moderately high precipitation levels, the ground freezes during the winter, which prevents plant roots from getting water. As evergreen needles limit the area from which water can evaporate and do not contain much sap, the tree is able to conserve water and avoid damage to the needles due to freezing temperatures. The dark green color of needles also plays a significant role in the adaptation of the plants as this allows the needles to better absorb sunlight, and as the...

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