Temperate Deciduous Forest

What's A Temperate Deciduous Forest Like?

One of the most interesting features of the temperate deciduous forest is its changing seasons

The word "deciduous" means exactly what the leaves on these trees do: change color in autumn, fall off in the winter, and grow back again in the spring. This adaptation helps trees in the forest survive winter.

Graph of Biome RainfallIf you look at the graph to the left, you'll see that next to the rainforest, the temperate deciduous gets the second-most amount of rainfall per year. In the winter, precipitation (rainfall) is in the form of sleet, snow, and hail. The average rainfall is 30 to 60 inches per year.  The average temperature of the forest is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

How do deciduous trees and plants survive the changing seasons?
Like all living things, deciduous trees and plants have special adaptations to stay alive.

Summer is a busy time for deciduous trees.  Their broad leaves capture energy from the sun and convert it to food by photosynthesis.  Some of the food is used for growth and some is stored in the roots for next spring.  

During the shorter days and cooler weather of autumn, green chlorophyll in the leaves begins to decompose, revealing brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds. Actually, these colors were present in the leaves all year long, but had been hidden by the green pigment of the chlorophyll.  

To prepare for winter, deciduous trees and plants become dormant. They lose their leaves and seal the places where leaves were attached with a protective covering called a leaf scar. If they kept their leaves, the water in the leaves would freeze into ice, damaging the leaves and leaving the plant vulnerable to bacteria or fungi. Plants also make a concentrated sugar solution to stop water from freezing in their stems.  

The longer days and warmer weather of spring signal to the trees to grow new leaves and begin photosynthesis again. 

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