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Deciduous Forests This biome is defined by its four distinct seasons and its forests of trees that drop their leaves in autumn. (The word deciduous [d

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Coniferous Forests The coniferous forest is the world s biggest biome. It covers nearly one-fifth of the Earth s land surface and stretches across northern Canada and northern Eurasia in an almost unbroken
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Coniferous Forests The coniferous forest is the world s biggest biome. It covers nearly one-fifth of the Earth s land surface and stretches across northern Canada and northern Eurasia in an almost unbroken belt for 7,000 miles. The main features of the coniferous forest are its evergreen forests of needle-leafed trees, including pine, spruce, hemlock and fir. Although this biome is not as harsh as the tundra, all its plants and animals have evolved to survive the coniferous forest s long, snowy winters. Coniferous forest trees have many adaptations for surviving harsh winters, a short growing season, and nutrient-poor soil. Their conical shapes allow snow to slip off easily, without weighing down and breaking branches. Their needle-shaped leaves have waxy, protective coatings to lock in moisture. Plus, the needles don t all fall off in autumn. Keeping the leaves through the winter means coniferous forest trees don t need to use energy to grow an entire set of new leaves each spring and they can capture energy from the sun throughout the year. The vast forests of the coniferous forests are being shrunk by massive logging operations. The wood is used to make paper and build houses. When trees are clearcut, the forest habitat is destroyed. Reducing the size of the world s forests also contributes to global warming. Forests are called carbon sinks because they absorb carbon dioxide and help keep the world s carbon cycle in balance. When too much carbon gas is released into the atmosphere, the climate tends to warm and that can have serious consequences for humans and ecosystems. Deciduous Forests This biome is defined by its four distinct seasons and its forests of trees that drop their leaves in autumn. (The word deciduous [dih-sid-yoo-uhss] comes from a Latin word meaning to fall. ) Located in the eastern United States, all over Europe, Japan, and parts of Russia and China, temperate deciduous forests are home to deer, wolves, hawks and owls, songbirds, and many other species. Temperate deciduous forests change dramatically with the seasons. During spring, each tree produces thousands of new leaves filled with green chlorophyll. The chlorophyll traps sunlight and converts it into fuel for the tree s growth. Unlike the trees of the coniferous forests which are evergreens, these trees prepare for winter by breaking down the chlorophyll in their leaves, storing some of the nutrients, and then dropping their leaves. A by-product of the breakdown of the chlorophyll is the exposure of yellow, orange, and red pigments that are normally masked. That means that in autumn, the trees in these forests are alight with fiery colors. Deciduous forests have at least three layers. The tallest trees make up the canopy. Saplings and shrubs are found in the understory. Ferns, moss, and wildflowers grow on the forest floor. Savanna Tropical savannas are vast grasslands dotted with trees that spread across Africa, northern Australia, and parts of South America and India. With wide open spaces and so much grass to graze on, savannas are home to large herds of plant-eating animals (herbivores). They are also usually home to large predators that stalk the herds. In the African savanna, the planteaters include zebras, antelopes, wildebeest, giraffes, elephants, and rhinos. Predators include lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas. In the Australian savanna, kangaroos are the primary plant-eaters. Many of Africa s savanna herbivores have long, powerful legs to help them travel long distances and run away from predators. Some, like the ostrich and giraffe, have VERY long legs and they can even use them to kick predators. In the Australian savanna, kangaroos have a slightly different strategy for getting around: They don t run, but hop as far as 30 feet in a single leap and can speed-hop at 35 mph. The weather in the savanna is warm year-round, and there are basically two seasons wet and dry. To survive the dry season, many savanna animals must migrate in search of water. Trees growing alone or in small clusters are also part of the savanna biome. In fact, without the trees, the savanna biome would be considered a grassland. The variety of trees in a particular savanna is dependent upon the geographic location of the savanna. The acacia and baobab trees are common in African savannas. The baobab tree has adapted to the savanna biome by only producing leaves during the wet season. When leaves do grow, they are in tiny finger-like clusters. The small size of the leaves helps limit water loss. Another adaptation that enables the baobab tree to survive the long months of drought is its ability to store water in its large trunk. Mediterranean This is one of the world s smallest biomes, occurring on the west coast of the United States, along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and in coastal patches of South Africa, Australia, and Chile. Winters are mild in this biome, and what little rain there is, falls in that season. Summers are dry and hot. But it s not a desert. The plants of the Mediterranean biome are evergreen and shrubby, and they grow very densely. Many have thick, leathery leaves that seal in moisture or leaves with small surface areas to limit water loss. The plants also have adapted to survive occasional wildfires. The Mediterranean biome is highly aromatic with many plants emitting strong, spicy smells. Many herbs used for cooking including rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano all grow wild in the coastal shrubbery surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Trees in Mediterranean climate must be able to survive long dry summers. Evergreens such as Pine and Cypress trees are mixed with deciduous tress such as some Oaks. Fruit trees and vines such as grapes, figs, olives, and citrus fruits grow well here. Tropical Rainforest Located in a belt around the equator, rain forests are a riot of life, with plants growing nonstop year-round. The hot, wet climate supports a jungle of plants and wildlife, from the towering trees that make up the canopy down to the dark forest floor where sunlight barely penetrates due to the thickness of the foliage above. Rain forests get drenched by as much as 180 inches of rain annually. The rain forest has more species than any other biome. Trees in the rain forest grow as high as 200 feet, and each tree may be home to hundreds of species, from vines and bromeliads, to butterflies, monkeys, birds, and frogs. Rain forests once covered about 14 percent of the Earth s land surface, but now account for only about 6 percent. Rain forest habitats continue to be cut down for their wood products and to create land for farming. Every year about 9,000 square miles of rain forest is cut down an area larger than Wales! Most rainforest soil is very poor with all the nutrients available largely remaining at surface level. Because of this rainforest trees have very shallow roots. Some very tall trees have developed ways of obtaining much needed additional support by forming buttressed roots, which grow out from the base of the trunk sometimes as high as 4.5 meters above the ground. These extended roots also increase the area over which nutrients can be absorbed from the soil. Urban Urban areas are dominated by human activities and human constructions. These include towns, cities and associated landscapes, such as landfill sites. It can almost be described as a patchwork of other habitats where buildings are artificial cliffs, sewers and drains are waterways, and parks, gardens and brownfield sites provide forests and meadows. Urban areas have a variety of animals that have adapted to live in a manmade habitat and trees are no different. The majority of trees that can be found in urban areas have been planted by humans, some naturally growing trees can be found in gardens and in large parks. Trees in urban areas are planted for the benefits of; improving the appearance of an areas, providing shade and shelter, to encourage wildlife. Many towns and cities are referred to as urban forests because of the trees that have been planted. However urban trees can also cause major problems. If they are poorly planted, or the wrong type of tree is planted this can lead to trees not being able to form deep enough or healthy enough roots. This not only leads to unhealthy trees but can also damage pavements and roads and lead to the possibility of trees falling on buildings or even people. Did you know that on average 3 people a year are killed in towns and cities in the UK by falling trees!
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