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What Is the Taiga?

TundraThe taiga (ty-ga) is the largest land biome. It stretches across a large part of Canada, Asia, and Europe and is found between the tundra and deciduous forests.

TundraWinters in the taiga are cold and the summers are warm. The taiga gets between 15 and 30 inches of precipitation a year. In the summer, temperatures can reach the 70s. In the winter, temperatures can be as cold as 65 degrees below zero! The taiga is sometimes called the coniferous or boreal forest.

Coniferous forests are found in northern Canada, Asia, and Europe. Coniferous forests are also found at high altitudes in the United States. In New Hampshire, coniferous forests are found in the White Mountains.

Ready for Snow!

TundraConiferous trees like spruce, hemlock, pine and fir are commonly found in the taiga. Most coniferous trees are evergreen and are specially adapted to survive in cold weather and snow. Evergreen trees are cone-shaped to help snow slide off them so the branches won't break. The leaves or needles of evergreen trees lose less water than other kinds of leaves. This also helps them survive. Some broad-leaved trees like the birch have adapted to the taiga. The birch is very flexible and doesn't break easily when covered with ice and snow!


Living in the Taiga

FisherThere are many animals that make the taiga home. Many birds breed in the taiga in the spring and summer. As the snow melts in the spring, insects lay their eggs in the water. The insects attract a wide variety of species of birds to the forest like the spruce grouse and the pileated woodpecker. Mammals like pine marten, moose, bobcats, black bears, fishers, Canada lynx, and grizzly bears are found in the taiga. These mammals all have thick coats that protect them from the cold.

Adapted for the Cold

LynxSome animals have structural adaptations that help them survive in the taiga. The Canada lynx's wide paws work like  snowshoes. They distribute the lynx's weight, and help it move in the snow. Black bears avoid the coldest weather by going into their dens in the fall and hibernating until the early spring. They have a protective layer of fat that allows them to stay in their dens while the weather is cold.

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