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Boreal forest

Taiga wildlifeTaiga wildlife The vast coniferous forests of northern Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia and Russia are known as boreal forests, or the taiga. It is the world's largest land biome. The winters here are long and cold. Coniferous trees can survive in lower temperatures than deciduous trees, so coniferous woodlands are often found in northerly or mountainous regions. Forest berries and fungi provide food for birds and mammals. Crossbills, for example, use their specially adapted beaks to prise open pine cones and reach the nutritious seeds inside.


The forests of the taiga are dominated by fir, pine, spruce and larch trees. They have needle-like leaves and a conical shape, to shed heavy snow that could break their branches. Conifers constantly lose and replace their leaves throughout the year. The dead leaves are not broken down into the soil because worms and other soil-enriching invertebrates find them distasteful. Instead, they remain as a thick layer of leaf litter, making the soil acidic and poor.

Taiga forest in Alaska, USATaiga forest in Alaska, USA
The North American taiga food webThe North American taiga food web

Food web

Taiga is the Russian word for forest.

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