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- Summers are brief and warm reaching
- 20-25 °C whereas winters are long and brutally cold – 30-40 °C below freezing.
- Typical annual precipitation ranges from 38 cm to 63 cm.
- It is quite well distributed throughout the year, with a summer maxima.
- In winter the precipitation is in the form of snow.
- Boreal forest soils are characterized by thin podzols and are rather poor.
- This is because the weathering of rocks proceeds slowly in cold environments and because the litter derived from conifer needle (leaf) is decomposed very slowly and is not rich in nutrients. Moreover, conifers do not shed their leaves frequently.
- Most podzols are poor soils for agriculture due to the sandy portion, resulting in a low level of moisture and nutrients.
- Some are sandy and excessively drained. Others have shallow rooting zones and poor drainage due to subsoil cementation.
- A low pH (acidic) further compounds issues, along with phosphate deficiencies and aluminium toxicity.
- The low pH (acidic) factor is due to excessive leaching of alkaline oriented cations which if present would neutralize the organic acids of the accumulating litter.
- The predominant vegetation is evergreen coniferous forest.
- Conifers are evergreen plant species such as Spruce, fir and pine trees, etc.
- The conifers require little moisture are best suited to this type of sub-Arctic climate.
- The productivity and community stability of a boreal forest are lower than those of any other forest ecosystem.
- Animals found in this region include Siberian tiger, wolverine, lynx, wolf, bear, red fox, squirrel, and amphibians like Hyla, Rana, etc.
Characteristics of Coniferous forests
- Unlike the equatorial rain forests, Coniferous forests are of moderate density and are more uniform. The trees in coniferous forests grow straight and tall.
- Almost all conifers are evergreen. There is no annual replacement of new leaves as in deciduous trees.
- The same leaf remains on the tree for as long as five years. Food is stored in the trunks, and the bark is thick to protect the trunk from excessive cold.
- Conifers are conical in shape. Their conical shape and sloping branches prevent snow accumulation. It also offers little grip to the winds.
- Transpiration can be quite rapid in the warm summer. So, leaves are small, thick, leathery and needle-shaped to check excessive transpiration.
- The soils of the coniferous forests are poor. They are excessively leached and very acidic.
- Humus content is also low as the evergreen leaves barely fall and the rate of decomposition is slow.
- Under-growth is negligible because of the poor soil conditions.
- Absence of direct sunlight and the short duration of summer are other contributory factors.
- Coniferous forests are also found in regions with high elevation [Example: The forests just below the snowline in Himalayas].
But on very steep slopes where soils are immature or non-existent, even the conifer cannot survive [Example: Southern slopes of Greater Himalayas].
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