Trees as Habitats

Habitats, Biomes, Forests, Ecosystems Simplified

The Earth has many different environments, varying in temperature, moisture, light, and many other factors. Each of these habitats has distinct life forms living in it, forming complex communities of interdependent organisms.

What is a biome?worlf forest regions map

Biomes are ecosystems where several habitats meet. They include the geography and climate conditionsof communities of plants, animals, and soil organisms.

The Earth itself is one big biome. Smaller biomes include:

  • tundra
  • tiaga
  • temperate
  • deciduous forest
  • scrub forest
  • grassland
  • desert
  • tropical rain forest
  • temperate rain forest.

What is an ecosystem?

Most of us are confused with the words ecosystem and biome. What’s the difference?

Ecosystems vary in size and can be as small as a puddle as large as a forest. Any group of living and nonliving things interactingwith one and other can be considered as an ecosystem. It’s the way nature works together and depend on one and other: such as ants, anteater, soil, trees, forest and sun. Within each ecosystem, there are habitats. (also see food chain)

Below Figure F1: The forest ecosystem and its individual components and the environmental factors affecting the ecosystem (Hannelius & Kuusela 1995)

forest-ecosystem

What is a habitat?

The word “habitat” is Latin for “it inhabits. A habitat is a place where a species lives. It is the natural place or environment in which plants, animals and organisms live. Basically, their physical surroundings that influence and is used by any species.

Habitats are specific to a population. Each population has its own habitat. If the habitat changes and it no longer works for the species, they adapt or move on. Many species can live in the same habitat, such as a pond.

Habitats include different biomes, forestations and ecosystems.

be a treehugger love the forest
Be a Treehugger Love the Forest

What is a forest?

Forests are small biomes. They represent a third of the Earth’s land. A forest is an area with a high density of trees.

Forests are also referred to as:

  • a wood
  • woodland
  • wold
  • weald
  • holt
  • firth

While humans and animals breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.

What kind of forests are there?

Distinct forest types occur within each of the broad biome groups. According to UNEP there are 26 major types of forests, which reflect climate zones as well as trees types.

These 26 major forest types can be reclassified into 6 broader categories:

  • temperate needleleaf
  • temperate broadleaf and mixed
  • tropical moist
  • tropical dry
  • sparse trees and parkland
  • forest plantations

Do different trees live in different forests?

Trees as well as other organisms change depending on the forest, it’s climate and structure.

Trees come in different shapes and sizes. There is an incredible diversity of tree species around the world — some 60,000 to 70,000 species of trees have been identified! New species are being identified all the time. Different trees live in different forests. You will find Evergreens in Acadia National Park in Maine, Palm Trees in the Rain Forest, and the Boabab in Madagascar.

worlds largest treeWhat are the world’s largest trees?

There are many trees that live in the world’s many habitats. The largest recorded tree (measured in volume) is named General Sherman, a Giant Sequoia, found in the Sequoia National Forest, CA. The tree is believed to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old. It is so big that you could drive a car through it!

Who measures trees?

American Forests Org has a US National Register of Big Trees. According to AFO Big Trees capture our imagination with their size and strength. For 70 years they have been recognizing champion trees as symbols for all the great work trees do for the environment. According the AFO, if you have found a potential national champ..Nominate your tree.

Are the world’s forests in danger?

green earth butterfly
tiger flowers

Biomes have changed and moved many times during the history of life on Earth. More recently, human activities have drastically altered these communities. Thus, conservation and preservation of biomes should be a major concern to all.

Because we share the world with many other species of plants and animals, we must consider the consequences of our actions. Over the past several decades, increasing human activity has rapidly destroyed or polluted many ecological habitats throughout the world. It is important to preserve all types of biomes as each houses many unique forms of life. However, the continued heavy exploitation of certain biomes, such as the forest, freshwater, and marine, may have more severe implications.

How can I help the forests?

keep forests greenDeforestation represents a great threat to the future of the earth’s atmosphere, and the only way this can be avoided is by careful management of this resource. Once a tree is cut down, another should take its place, but there is still too large a number of trees being cut down as opposed to the number of trees being planted.

Pollution is another way we endanger the forests and in turn endanger species. Our governments, companies and all of us need to act more responsibly by maintaining our lands and it’s organisms.

As people we can do our best to keep the forests clean and pollution free. This helps us as well as the living breathing plants and animals. Thus we can clean up after ourselves and try not to destroy these natural surroundings when we are enjoying them.

Background

Many threatened or endangered species are at risk because of disruptions to their habitats. While some species can rely on diverse sources of food or places to breed, a surprising number of species are very specific in their requirements. For example, certain butterflies can only lay their eggs on particular host plants that provide food for their caterpillars. Some bird species have very particular nesting requirements that are only met by certain kinds of trees. Wildlife depend upon having enough of the right kind of habitat available for their survival and reproduction. Maintaining a diversity of trees in forest habitats supports a wide diversity of animals in the forest ecosystem—producers, consumers and decomposers. The producers are the trees themselves and the other forest plants that provide food for other wildlife. The consumers eat the plants or get energy from eating animals that feed on plants. The decomposers include fungi, bacteria, earthworms and insects that break down dead material. They recycle the waste products of the forest, turning dead plants and animals into usable nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that can be absorbed by tree and plant roots. There is also diversity in the layers of the forest. The canopy layer is made up of branches and leaves of the tallest trees. Beneath that is the understory layer made up of smaller trees and shrubs. Beneath that is the forest floor, where wildflowers, grasses, seedling trees, mosses and fallen leaves, branches and trees are found. Underneath them all is the soil and the roots of trees and other plants. Wildlife often spend the majority of their time in one of these layers. For instance, red squirrels spend much of their time in the canopy, while wild turkeys spend most of their time on the forest floor. Some very important habitats include those found in dead or decomposing trees. Not only do they provide nutrients to the forest as they decompose, they also provide places where animals live. Tree cavities are important nesting sites for birds and mammals. Many insects, spiders, reptiles and even bats can be found under tree bark. One of the most direct relationships between trees and other species are those between trees and wildlife that use them for a food source. Leaf feeders may be found almost any time a tree has its leaves, and tree flowers can provide important food for flower specialists. Bark and wood are consumed by a variety of insect larvae, and sap that leaks from trees often attracts butterflies as well as wasps and some flies. Mammals often feed on very energy-rich fruits produced by trees like oaks, chestnuts and beech trees. Those organisms that directly consume tree tissues as food may themselves become food for predators. Caterpillars are eaten by birds and wasps and can serve as the “nursery” for the larvae of certain wasps and flies. Predators help to control the numbers of the plant feeders.

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