Facts about Taiga

19 facts about Taiga

The world's largest land biome

Taiga is a boreal forest consisting mainly of spruce, pine, and larch, and to a small extent, deciduous trees. It is found in the northern parts of Asia, North America and Europe within a cool temperate climate. Most of the coniferous forest zone has permafrost. The harsh conditions prevailing in the taiga make life impossible for many representatives of flora and fauna. Despite this, both plants and animals and even people live there.
Taiga is a boreal (northern) coniferous forest.
Boreal forests are found throughout northern Europe (the Scandinavian Peninsula and the Kola Peninsula, which together with the Finnish-Karelian Intersea, form the Fennoscandian Peninsula, the northern part of the East European Plain), northern Asia (Siberia, Sakhalin, Kamchatka) and North America (Alaska, Canada).
The term "taiga" is mostly used for the forests of Eurasia.
American forests are generally referred to as boreal coniferous forests.
Taiga occupies 11.5% (17 million km2 - 10,5 million square miles) of Earth's land area, second only to deserts and dry scrub (19% of Earth's land area).
Its largest areas are located in Russia and Canada. In North America, it includes most of inland Canada, Alaska, and parts of the northern contiguous United States. In Eurasia, it includes most of Sweden, Finland, much of Russia-from Karelia in the west to the Pacific Ocean (including much of Siberia), much of Norway and Estonia, parts of the Scottish highlands, some coastal areas of Iceland, and areas of northern Kazakhstan, northern Mongolia, and northern Japan (on the island of Hokkaido).
Taiga is mainly covered by coniferous forests and, to a small extent, by deciduous forests.
Deciduous trees are more common at forest edges, in post-fire areas (wildfires), along river banks and swamps, and in coastal areas where the climate is milder.
Major tree species, growing season length, and temperatures vary among taiga regions.
The taiga in its present form has existed for the last 12,000 years, since the beginning of the Holocene epoch.
In the north, the taiga is adjacent through the sparse trees(transition zone) to the tundra (a treeless plant formation in the cold climate of the Arctic zone in the northern hemisphere). On the other hand, the south has deciduous forests or the steppe zone.
Boreal forests are poorly diversified in terms of species.

The stands are usually single-trunked and composed of a small number of pin tree species such as spruce (Picea), pine (Pinus), fir (Abies), and larch (Larix).

From the deciduous trees, which are rare in the taiga, we should mention alders (Alnus), poplars (Populus), birches (Betula), rowans (Sorbus), willows (Salix). The shrub layer is poorly developed. The well-developed undergrowth consists of shrubs from the heather family (Ericaceae), bryophytes and lichens.

The taiga has a high primary production - about 800 g of dry matter per m2 per year, combined with a slow decomposition (mineralization) process.
This leads to the accumulation of organic matter in the ground and the production of a thick layer of litter. Needles falling from trees significantly affect the acidification and podzolization of soils.
In the Asian taiga, two types are distinguished, differing in species composition - dark taiga and light taiga.

Dark taiga occurs mainly in western Siberia (up to the Yenisei River and Lake Baikal). In the north, there are spruce and larch forests with an admixture of Siberian limber. In the middle part, the forests consist mainly of Siberian pine. Finally, in the south, there is a formation called urman, with stand dominated by Siberian spruce, Siberian fir and Siberian pine with an admixture of small-leaved lime.

Light taiga (luminous, fresh) occurs in central and north-eastern Siberia (east of the Yenisei). It consists of Dahurian larch and Siberian spruce with admixtures of various species of willows and dwarf birch.

Boreal forests grow on poor podzolic soils, characterized by a very acid reaction (pH 3.0-5.5).
The subsoil often contains permafrost, the upper layers of which partially thaw during the summer, forming extensive and boggy swamps. Considerable areas are covered by peat soils.