14 Timber and Forest Products
the sunlight from reaching the forest floor. This means that there are generally not a lot of other plants or shrubs growing on the floor of a conifer forest. But shade-loving plants, such as ferns, mosses, lichens, and mushrooms, do thrive beneath the conifers. Coniferous forests tend to be home to more mammals and insects than to amphibians and reptiles. These animals are better adapted to the longer winters. Moose, bighorn sheep, black bears, and bald eagles are found here. Owls, loons, and snakes often live in coniferous forests as well. The northernmost regions of Canada are part of the taiga , an ecosystem characterized by harsh winters and short, humid summers. Some of the animals here hibernate during the rough snowy winter, some migrate to more southern climates, and some are adapted to the harsh conditions of this environment. There are many, many insects in the taiga during the summer months. The harsh conditions are not suitable for many plants, but the taiga is home to coniferous forests. Pines, spruce, and fir trees grow in tight clusters. This offers the trees some protection from the wind and extreme cold. Rainforests Believe it or not, there are rainforests in North America. They are found on the west coast of the United States and Canada. This includes places such as Olympia National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Fire and Pines Forest fires are not always something to be avoided. In fact, some trees in a coniferous forest depend on them. For example, jack pine has cones that are coated in a waxy substance. In order for the seeds to be released from the cone, the waxy coating has to melt. The heat of a forest fire is what makes that happen. The fire melts the coating, and the seeds are released and spread by the wind. Jack pines are usually the first to grow in the newly scorched forest. They are a pioneer species , meaning that they are among the first organisms that move into an ecosystem that has been disrupted or damaged.
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