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Boreal forests: characteristics, flora and fauna

Did you know that boreal forests represent almost a third of the total forest area of ​​the planet? Also known among environmental scientists and nature lovers as “the green crown of the planet”, boreal forests are a spectacle of flora and fauna adapted to cold weather conditions. Like the rest of the forests, the value of its biodiversity is truly incalculable. In addition, the areas of the boreal forest that remain intact (without human alteration), help to mitigate global warming; since they contribute to determine both the global climate of the Earth, as well as the percentage of CO2 present in the atmosphere.

If you want to learn more about boreal forests, their characteristics, flora and fauna , don’t miss this AgroCorrn article.

What are boreal forests

Boreal forests are those forests that are forming a homogeneous green belt in the circumpolar region. Geographically, they cover the territories of Russia, Canada and Alaska, as well as the countries that make up Scandinavia: Sweden, Norway and Finland; reaching an estimated surface area of ​​920 million hectares.

They are also known by the name of the terrestrial biome that characterizes them, the taiga , as well as for being the most northern forests on the planet , since most of the boreal forests extend between 50º and 60º north latitude. We are talking then about forests that we can only find in the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, since in the Southern Hemisphere it is possible for us to find continental masses at these specific latitudes.

In the next sections, let’s continue to learn more about the incredible boreal forest biome and learn what its main characteristics are, as well as the flora and fauna that its forests harbor. Also, in this other AgroCorrn article we show you what taiga is: definition and characteristics .

Characteristics of boreal forests

The region of the planet occupied by boreal forests is usually divided into three regions: maritime, continental and north-continental, the second being the one with the largest territorial extension. Let’s see in more detail what weather characteristics we can find in each of these 3 boreal forest regions :

  • Maritime subzone: temperatures throughout the year are mild, with generally mild winters (reaching -3 ºC in the coldest month) and cool summers (10-15 ºC).
  • Continental subzone: winters are longer and colder (-20 ºC to -40 ºC), with abundant snow that covers the forests for 5 or 7 months and dry winds that hit the trees. In the summers, however, average temperatures are reached that vary between 10 and 20 ° C.
  • North-continental sub-area: includes the territories of Eastern Siberia and the Far East. In this area, winters are very long and extremely cold and dry (temperatures as low as -60 ºC can be reached). As for the summers, they are short-lived and relatively warm, although it can freeze at night.

Flora of the boreal forests

Evergreen plant species such as conifers , firs, pines and thuyas predominate in boreal forest ecosystems , which are also characterized by having needle-shaped needle-shaped leaves and fruits and seeds in the form of cones or pinecones. However, there are also many deciduous trees with which they live, such as birches, poplars and poplars.

According to the region of the taiga biome in which they live, the main plant species of boreal forests are:

  • In North America: American red pine ( Pinus resinosa ), Canadian false fir ( Tsuga canadensis ), western thuja ( Thuja occidentalis), balsam fir ( Abies balsamea ), American alder ( Alnus incana ), Alaska birch ( Betula neolaskana ), North American black poplar ( Populus tremuloides ).
  • In Eurasia: Scots pine ( Pinus sylvestris ), Siberian larch ( Larix sibirica ), Siberian fir ( Abies sibirica ), Asian white birch ( Betula plaatyphylla ), Mongolian poplar ( Populus suaveolens ), Siebold poplar ( Populus sibda ).

Fauna of the boreal forests

All the animals of the taiga present certain anatomical and behavioral adaptations that allow them to survive more successfully in these boreal forests where they inhabit. For example, warm-blooded vertebrates (endothermic animals) are able to conserve heat due to their large size and the presence of short appendages (both ears and snouts, legs and tails). This allows them to better adapt to the low temperatures around them and maintain a low surface-to-volume ratio. In addition, birds and mammals have a developed insulation layer made up of feathers or skin (fat), respectively; which is usually even thicker in winter than in summer. Despite these adaptations to the climate, on many occasions, animals opt for other strategies to avoid the winter season directly,migrations (birds) and hibernations (some mammals). You can find out more about these behaviors in these other articles on Which animals migrate and why and on Which animals hibernate and why .

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