6.2.5. Temperate coniferous forest

3311005Bor_lowland_typical_forestTemperate coniferous forest is a terrestrial biome found in temperate regions of the world with warm summers and cool winters and adequate rainfall to sustain a forest. In most temperate coniferous forests, evergreen conifers predominate, while some are a mix of conifers and broadleaf evergreen trees and/or broadleaf deciduous trees. Temperate evergreen forests are common in the coastal areas of regions that have mild winters and heavy rainfall, or inland in drier climates or mountain areas. Coniferous forests can be found in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Many species of trees inhabit these forests including cedar, cypress, douglas-fir, fir, juniper, kauri, pine, podocarpus, spruce, redwood and yew. The understory also contains a wide variety of herbaceous and shrub species.

Structurally, these forests are rather simple, generally consisting of two layers: an overstory and understory. Some forests may support an intermediate layer of shrubs. Pine forests support a herbaceous understory that is generally dominated by grasses and herbaceous perennials, and are often subject to ecologically important wildfires.

Temperate rain forests occur only in seven regions around the world:
  • The Pacific temperate rain forests of the Pacific Northwest
  • The Valdivian temperate rain forests of southwestern South America
  • The rain forests of New Zealand and Tasmania
  • The rain forests of the northwest Europe (small pockets in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Icelandand a somewhat larger area in Norway)
  • Southern Japan
  • Eastern Black Sea-Caspian Sea region of Turkey and Georgia to northern Iran.

The moist conditions of temperate rain forests generally support an understory of mosses, ferns and some shrubs. Temperate rain forests can be temperate coniferous forests or temperate broadleaf and mixed forests.

The temperate coniferous rain forests sustain the highest levels of biomass in any terrestrial ecosystem and are notable for trees of massive proportions, including Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), Alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides) and Kauri (Agathis australis). These forests are quite rare, occurring in small areas of North America, southwestern South America and northern New Zealand. The Klamath-Siskiyou forests of northwestern California and southwestern Oregon is known for its rich variety of plant and animal species, including many endemic species.

The wildlife here includes rich fur bearing animals such as mink, silver fox, lynx, sable, and beaver.

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