The taiga (from a Russian word meaning "wet forest") is also referred to as a northern coniferous or boreal forest. It is located adjacent to and south of the arctic tundra (Fig. 26.3). The vegetation is dominated by evergreen trees, such as spruce, fir, and pine. Tamarack (larch) also occurs in the taiga. Birch, aspen, and willow may be found in some of the wetter areas. Many perennials and a few shrubs occur, but there are few annuals. Snow blankets the region during the long and severe winters, with temperatures that drop to -50°C (-58°F) or lower during the coldest months. In summer, the temperatures often reach 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F). Most precipitation occurs in the summer, ranging from about 25 centimeters (10 inches) to more than 100 centimeters (39 inches) in parts of western North America. A variety of birds, including jays, warblers, and nuthatches, inhabit the region, which is dotted with many lakes, ponds, and marshes. Rodents, such as shrews and jumping mice, and larger mammals, notably moose and deer, are found in the taiga. Ermine and wolverines also make their home in the taiga, and caribou overwinter in this biome.
Stern-Jansky-Bidlack: Introductory Plant Biology, Ninth Edition
© The McGraw-H Companies, 2003
Figure 26.3 Taiga in Alaska.
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