Coniferous Forests Alaska

Climate of Forest in Alaska

Alaska gets an average of 16.57 inches of rainfall and 74 inches of snowfall. Some places in Alaska can reach up to 275 inches of precipitation. There are also places that receive as little as 10 inches of precipitation.

The average annual temperature is 37 degrees Fahrenheit. It can get up to 80 degrees in July. In January it can get below -70 degrees.

The coniferous forests in Alaska get extremely cold in the winter but actually pretty warm in the summer. There are two seasons in Alaska: summer and winter. In the winter it can get below -70 and can get less than 6 hours of sunlight. In the summer it actually gets pretty warm and also humid. The sun might never set one day in Alaska.

Net Primary Productivity

The Net Primary Productivity for the Taigas are almost in the middle of the list of ecosystems. They aren't as productive as the rain forests, estuaries, swamps, and deciduous forests but are more productive than the grasslands, savannas, tundras and deserts. Coniferous forests or Taigas are located between the 50 degree latitude and the arctic circle.

The soil in coniferous forests are pretty poor. So the pine needles can decompose, there are a lot of fungi species living in the soil. It is very hard to break down the pine needles which makes the soil acidic.

Invasive and Endangered Species

The Gypsy moth itself isn't much harm but its larvae is. During outbreaks, the larvae will eat and kill trees. These trees would have provided homes to many animal species.

The Short-tailed Albatross was hunted for its feathers (overharvesting in HIPPCO) up to and even after the turn of the 20th century. It was thought that this species went extinct. But then there were sightings in 1950. They were considered endangered on American soil by the ESA in 2000. Before that, they were endangered on foreign soil by the ESA.

Popular Animals

Alaska is home to around 30,000 grizzly bears. Their omnivorous diet is very helpful for their survival. They'll eat salmon and moose to nuts and berries. Salmon is a very common food source for grizzlies in Alaska. They have trouble finding food in the winter so they have adapted to hibernate.

Moose are the largest of the deer species. Their shoulders can reach up to 6.5 feet in height and their antlers can be 6 feet wide. Because of their size, they can reach higher plants than what a deer could. In the winter it is harder to find food. They use their large hooves to dig through the snow to find mosses and lichens. Their massive hooves are also helpful for staying ontop of the snow. They can run up to 35 miles an hour and are also very good swimmers, swimming for miles at a time.

The wolverine is a phantom of the coniferous forests. They are very hard to find. That may be because of their large territories. They will sometimes travel up to 15 miles a day to find food. They are mainly carnivorous but will occasionally eat plants in the summer. Wolverines are very oppurtunistic creatures. They will kill and eat animals much larger than them such as caribou, and they dig through the snow to find avalanche victims or hibernating animals. Even though they are a type of weasel and weigh only up to 40 lbs, many say they compete for the top predator with the grizzly bear.

Popular Plants

The White Spruce is a massive tree, capable of growing up to 130 feet tall with a 3 foot long diameter. Its height helps it get more sunlight than the other trees. This tree dominates Alaska, Canada, and a lot of the upper 48 including Montana, Wyoming, and Maine. It is also a common Christmas tree.

The Black Spruce is very similar to the white spruce, but it is shorter and can grow in harsher climates. Its ability to survive in harsher climates helps because it will have less competition in harsher climates. It is also a very common plant throughout Northern North America. Like the white spruce, it is also a common Christmas tree.

This deciduous tree is able to compete with the conifers in a coniferous forest. The Paper Spruce has a wide range, reaching from Alaska to Maine. It was one of the first species to call the most northern parts of the world. The paper birch is also an important food source for moose.

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