Taiga is a kind of forest.
It has a long winter that is very cold.
It has a short summer that is not very hot.
The trees have leaves like needles so the snow slides off.
The animals need thick fur.
The term biome means the main groups of plants and animals living in areas of certain climate patterns, including the way in which animals, vegetation and soil interact together.
What plants can grow in an area is determined by the temperatures, the amount of rainfall and season in which it falls, how long the seasons are, how high above sea level the area is.
The actual species of plants and animals are similar because the climate conditions are similar. The climate helps determine which animals live in a particular place.
Taiga, also called boreal forests, is the largest land biome. These forests are found in a broad belt across Europe, Asia and North America : about two thirds are in Siberia, and the rest are in Scandinavia, Alaska and Canada. The largest area of taiga is in Russia.
In this biome, summers are short and mild and the winters are long, cold and dry. Rainfall, or precipitation, mostly falls as snow, usually 40-100 cm each year.
Hardy plants live in this biome
There is very little variation in the plants of this biome because they need to be hardy to survive the weather. Plants are mostly evergreen conifers with leaves like needles, such as pine, fir and spruce. Leaves like this minimise water loss, do not freeze and do not get weighed down with snow. The snow slides off the needles. The shape of these trees helps them survive too: the branches do not spread out like those of deciduous trees or they'd break under the weight of the snow in the taiga. Conifers have branches that droop: smaller branches at the top and bigger branches at the bottom, so snow slides off.
The forest canopy lets in a restricted amount of sunlight, and this limits the understorey growth. The ground is covered with a thick layer of needles and dead twigs, matted together by fungus.
The soil is a thin layer that is lacking in nutrients because not far below the surface there is permafrost and rock . Permafrost is a permanently frozen layer of earth.
Most birds of this biome spend spring and summer in the forest and migrate to warmer places to avoid the winter.
Animals of taiga biome
Animals found in taiga biome include woodpeckers, hawks, moose, bear, weasel, lynx, fox, wolf, deer, hares, chipmunks, shrews, and bats. Mammals living in the boreal forests have all adapted in various ways to survive the long cold winters. Generally they have heavy fur coats and many hibernate through the winter. Most are herbivores.
However the taiga is the habitat of the Siberian tiger, a carnivore and efficient hunter, the largest of the tiger family.
There is extensive logging in boreal forests which means habitat loss is the main threat to animals and plants of this biome.