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Table of Contents
Taiga is a biome situated in the northern part of the planet. Occasionally also referred to as a boreal forest, coniferous trees, pines, spruce, mosses, and larches mostly define its landscape. Its name comes from the Russian word meaning “pure” or “untouched.”
See the fact file below for more information on Taiga Ecosystem, or you can download our 27-page Taiga Ecosystem worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Characteristics of a Taiga
- The circumpolar belt of the far Northern Hemisphere is home to the vast taiga forest, also known as the boreal (meaning northern) forest zone. It is estimated that the taiga takes up around 17% of the land surface area of the Earth. The tundra is located to the north of the taiga, whereas temperate forests are located to the south of it.
- Around 18,000 years ago, as the glaciers began to gradually recede, species of the taiga began to travel further northward in both Europe and North America.
Climate and Geography
- Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia, and Siberia have taigas. The world’s largest taiga can be found in Russia and runs for around 3,600 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Ural Mountains. During the most recent ice age, this taiga region was entirely glaciated.
- The ground beneath the taiga frequently has a layer of permafrost, which is a layer of soil that is permanently frozen. The term permafrost refers to land that has remained permanently frozen for at least two years. This type of land is made up of soil, rocks, and sediments that have cemented together from the presence of ice. Its depth can vary anywhere from a few centimeters to hundreds of meters, and it is covered by what is known as the active layer, which is a layer of earth on the surface that melts during the summer months. However, permafrost can also be found on the surface in some places.
- Although there is a startling variety of climates, the fact that it is cold most of the time is the most important climatic factor in taiga regions. This chilly environment is the result of a combination of a number of elements, the most important being the solar elevation angle, day length, and snow cover. There is never a time when the sun is directly overhead in the taiga biome.
- There are dense forests in the taigas. The majority of trees in this area are conifers, such as spruce, pine, and fir. Coniferous trees are characterized by needles rather than broad leaves, and their seeds develop within protected cones made of wood.
- Coniferous trees have developed specialized adaptations that allow them to endure the protracted winters and brief summers of the taiga. The fact that their needles contain so little sap makes them less susceptible to freezing. Because of their dark color and triangle-shaped sides, they are able to capture and take in the most amount of sunlight possible.
- The Scotch pine is the pine species with the broadest geographic range in the world. It can be found all the way from the far north of Scotland to the coast of Russia in the Pacific. White spruce are the most trees that can be found in North America. These trees can be found growing along the Mackenzie River delta in Canada, which is very close to the Arctic Ocean.
- The great variety of mosses found in taiga environments is one of the most recognizable characteristics of the region’s plant life. Moss makes up around one-third of the ground cover that exists underneath taiga. Moss makes up a significant portion of the ground cover in more mature conifer stands.
- There are not many nutrients found in the soil of the taiga. It is also possible for the ground to freeze, which makes it difficult for many plants to establish their roots. In the arctic tundra of the northern taiga, the larch is one of the few deciduous trees that can survive through the winter.
- The taiga is home to a diverse array of animal species. Every species of animal must develop effective defenses against the cold. During the months of subzero temperatures, the birds that are endemic to the taiga typically migrate south. The biome is home to a variety of small animals, the majority of which are rats. The trees of the taiga are home to a large number of birds of prey, including eagles and owls, that hunt these creatures.
- The taiga offers a suitable habitat for the moose, which are the largest species of deer found anywhere on the globe. Like other deer, moose are herbivores. They have a preference for the plants found growing in the bogs and streams of the taiga.
- There aren’t many huge carnivorous animals that may be found. Bears and lynx are seen in reasonable numbers. The Siberian tiger, which can weigh up to 660 pounds, is a species indigenous to the taiga. Only a limited region in the east of Siberia is home to the Siberian tiger. They search for moose and wild boars during their hunts.
- Large numbers of migratory birds make their final stop in the taiga before returning to their breeding grounds in the summer. Some of these are thrushes, flycatchers, and warblers. A good number of these species get their food by eating insects that live in the canopy of the taiga and other types of habitats. In addition, there are predators of these birds that can be found in the forest, such as the sharp-shinned hawk, and the northern goshawk.
- The following are some of the characteristics that the animals in taiga need to help them survive:
- In order to keep themselves warm, they typically have thick hair or feathers. A wide variety of animals have sharp claws and are adept at climbing up and down trees. They are able to walk on snow thanks to the size of their feet, which prevent them from sinking. The majority of them go from having white fur in the winter, which helps conceal them in the snow, to brown fur in summer, which helps camouflage them in the trees.
- The taiga is threatened in a variety of different ways as a result of climate change which also causes fires. The permafrost is beginning to thaw as a result of the warming environment. Because there is nowhere for this water to drain, more and more tundra is being colonized by muskegs.
- Changes to animal habitats are also caused by rising temperatures. These drive native species away while luring species that are not native to the area. Spruce trees can become infested with pests such as the bark beetle, which is not endemic to the area.
- Even though the temperatures are low, these ecosystems are dependent on fire. Fire is essential for certain tree species, such as the lodgepole pine and the aspen, to regrow. However, if there are too many fires and they happen too frequently, it puts the health of the trees and the variety of species at risk. Frequent fires pose a threat to the permafrost because they can lead to underground fires, which cause the permafrost to melt and can release a large amount of carbon dioxide in a short period of time.
- The ecosystems of the taiga are at risk as a result of both direct human activities and climate change. There has always been a need for the meat of taiga animals, whether foxes or bears. The most significant danger to taiga ecosystems, however, arises from human hunting activities. Strong structures for living quarters, workplaces, and educational institutions are essential to the development of civil society.
Taiga Ecosystem Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Taiga Ecosystem across 27 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching kids about Taiga Ecosystem, a biome situated in the northern part of the planet.
Complete List of Included Worksheets
Below is a list of all the worksheets included in this document.
- Taiga Ecosystem Facts
- Word Search
- The Taigan Hunger
- All About Taiga
- The Truth About Taiga
- Help The Taiga
- Conifer Curiosity
- The Life in Boreals
- The Magnanimous Moose
- Come Find Me!
- Care and Creativity
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the taiga known for?
The taiga, also called a boreal forest, is a biome of vegetation primarily composed of cone-bearing needle-leaved or scale-leaved evergreen trees. This type of forest is found in the northern circumpolar regions characterized by long winters and moderate to high annual precipitation.
What types of animals live in the taiga?
The taiga is home to a wide variety of animals, including moose, deer, elk, bears, wolves, lynxes, wolverines, squirrels, chipmunks, and many more. Some of these animals are well-adapted to the cold climate, such as the Arctic fox. A variety of birds, including the spruce grouse and the pileated woodpecker, are drawn to the forest by insects as well.
What do animals eat in the taiga?
Taiga is a place where many different kinds of animals live. These animals include white-tailed deer, moose, musk oxen, caribou, and reindeer. Most of these animals eat leaves and plants in the summer, but in the winter they have to eat lichen and moss because there is not as much food to eat. Carnivores, such as wolverines and lynx, eat smaller animals.
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Use With Any Curriculum
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