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Temperate Forest Food Web
Transcript of Temperate Forest Food Web
Temperate Deciduous forests have experience the changes of seasons from spring to summer and fall to winter. This seasonal change is related to the positioning of the sun's rotation to the Earth. The average yearly temperature is about 75 degrees but can heat up to about 86 degrees depending on altitude. Humidity is high in these areas at about 60 to 80 percent and receives approximately 20 – 60 inches of annual precipitation. Temperate forests contain fertile soils enriched in nutrients from decomposing leaves. This area is compiled of five layers, the tree stratum, small tree or sapling layer, shrub layer, herb layer, and ground layer composed of lichens and mosses (Inch a Pinch, 2009).
Trees and plants are producers, whereas they are photosynthesizing organisms. Producers are green plants that make their food by transferring sunlight into energy to create sugar. Producers found in the temperate forest include coastal redwood, fireweed, and western skunk cabbage. Epiphytes, which are plants that grow on other plants and trees, are commonly found in temperate zones in the form of moss and lichen (Weebly, 2013).
There are primary, secondary, and tertiary consumers found in the temperate forest. Primary consumers include organisms that retrieve energy and food from the producers found in the forest. Primary consumers are herbivores. A herbivore is an animal with a diet that consists of only plant materials that possess distinct digestive systems that allow them to process all types and textures of plants including grasses (Northwestern, 2013).
Primary consumers found in the temperate forest include rodents, squirrels, insects, birds, and deer. Herbivores feed on leaves and fruit from trees and plants found within the forest. These animals use around 6000 Kcal per square kilometer of energy annually produced by the plants. Ninety percent of the energy produced by primary consumers is used for cellular processes, whereas the remaining tenth is stored in the body (Tutor Vista, 2013).
Secondary consumers are carnivores that consist of small predators like birds, raccoons, snakes, and foxes. Carnivores attain food from eating other animals, mostly herbivores but sometimes feed on omnivores (fruit eating animals) and other carnivores. The importance of secondary consumers is that they maintain ecosystems from overpopulation (Northwestern, 2013). These carnivores utilize 600 kilocalories per square kilometer annually to eat. Just one tenth of their energy is stored, and 90% is used for cellular activity (Tutor Vista, 2013).
Tertiary consumers include large omnivorous, both plant and animal consuming predators such as cougars and bears. They acquire just 60 kilocalories per square meter. Therefore, tertiary consumers must cover an abundance of ground to find food to survive (Tutor Vista, 2013).
Decomposers are the last tier on the food chain. They consume dead plants and animals reducing them to simpler forms of matter. Primary decomposers included in the temperate forest are fungi, worms, slugs, snails, and bacteria. Decomposers are responsible for breaking down dead materials that produce nutrients in the soil that nourishes producers (Citadel, 2013).
Temperate Forest Biodiversity
The biodiversity of the temperate forest includes many trees and a multitude of plants, animals, and microorganisms. In these biologically diverse forests, organisms are adaptive to the consistent changes of environmental conditions that maintain the functions of this ecosystem (Convention on Biological Diversity, 2013). Temperate forests provide many resources for the human population. They are the source of agriculture and foundations of forestry that societies depend on to grow. Much of the food consumed by humans is found in temperate forests. Furthermore, clean air and water is abundantly found in these areas. Moreover, temperate forests are active in carbon sequestration, erosion prevention, and climate maintenance through transpiration. Subsequently, these forests offer preservation of biomass through mature trees such as redwoods (MIT, 2013).
The temperate (deciduous) forest biome is home to a variety of mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles. Common mammals of this ecosystem include bears, squirrels, deer, and raccoons. Bobcats, Mountain Lions, Timberwolves, and coyotes are also natural residents of this habitat. However, the numbers of these species have diminished greatly by humans because of the threat they pose to human life (COTF, 2004).
Plants and animals share a mutual relationship in that animals help distribute plant seeds among the forests and the animals feed on the plants fruits, berries, bark, and leaves. Animals are restricted from eating too much by plant protection such as thorns and toxic chemicals (Concord, 2013). Herbivore animals may cause structural and functional disruption in the growth of trees and shrubbery. They can weaken or even kill trees by reducing timber qualities. Weakened trees are more susceptible to environmental stresses such as herbivore insect outbreaks (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 2013).
Human and Biodiversity Hazards
Temperate forests have less biodiversity than other areas because of the season changes from warmer to colder periods (National Geographic, 2013). There are many threats to temperate forests including air pollutants from burning fuels, acid rain, agricultural development, mining, global warming, human occupation, invasive species, and forest fires (Inch a Pinch, 2009).
Many of these hazards are manufactured by man and can be avoided to preserve the temperate forests. Air pollutants caused by burning fuels destroy forests and kills wildlife by producing poisons in the soil, as well as increase global warming effects. Acres of forests are destroyed through human agricultural activities such as logging, mining, and fires (Inch a Pinch, 2009). Although fire is a vital and natural component of forest ecosystems for land management, it is now a significant threat to forests and the biodiversity that resides therein. Unnatural accumulations of fuel are causing outbreaks of devastating wildfires (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2001).
Wind, water, and temperature are abiotic factors contributed to the ecosystem of the temperate forest. Strong winds can cause breakage in branches and trees that decompose dispersing nutrients back into the soil for plant growth. Furthermore, strong winds also disperse pollen, fertilizing nearby plants. A detrimental effect of long-term strong winds may transfer bacteria or fungal microorganisms present in the soil causing the spread of disease throughout the forest (Weebly, 2013).
Plants and animals rely on water for survival. Stagnant waters are the habitat of numerous microorganisms such as algae. When temperatures and chemical makeup are at the right state, the growth of organisms like algae has the potential of compromising the existing ecosystem. Great quantities of algae can cause sun blockage detrimental to plant and animal growth (Weebly, 2013).
Warm temperatures encourage animal and plant reproduction. During the colder seasons, trees extract their leaves and go into a hibernation state. Moreover, animals must prepare for the colder seasons by storing food or gorging themselves in preparation for hibernation. Plants and animals structure their lifecycles around this period (Weebly, 2013).
Trees and Plants
Plants and trees belong to the first trophic level of the temperate forest. Plants and trees have unique adaptations to survive in this biome such as deciduous leaves that capture sunlight and manufacture food. They are producers, whereas they are able to produce food through photosynthesis using solar energy and inorganic materials like water and carbon dioxide (Tutor Vista, 2013). This is the source of nutrients for many inhabitants within the temperate forest such as insects, small mammals such as squirrels, deer, and bears.
Insects are part of the second trophic level. They are primary consumers where they feed on leaves from plants and trees (Tutor Vista, 2013). They adapt to this environment by utilizing fallen leaves for shelter in the colder months. Insects are the primary prey of many species such as spiders, garter snakes, shrews, bats, and a variety of birds (Libal, 2013).
Squirrels are part of the second trophic level. They are primary consumers, whereas their diet consists of plants and seeds (Tutor Vista, 2013). To adapt to the temperate forest environment, squirrels hoard large supplies of food in the ground, under piles of leaves, or in hollowed trees in the colder seasons when food is limited (Vtaide, 2013). Squirrels are pretty to secondary consumers such as foxes and eagles.
Deer belong to the second trophic level and are primary consumers of leaves, flowers, and fruits (Tutor Vista, 2013). Deer are quite adaptable to their environments their coats act as camouflage in the temperate forest. Deer are mostly prey to humans, however, occasionally will succumb to other species like bears (UOPX, 2013).
Bears are omnivores and eat both organic substances such as grass, berries, and mushrooms, but also require high-energy protein foods such as small animals and carrion (World-Builders, 2013). Bears adapt to temperate forests through hibernation in the cold seasons. Bears will dig out a den and lower their metabolism to sleep during the cold months, living off fat reserves (Wild Tracks, 2013). The only animal that can eat a full-grown bear is another bear (What Eats, 2013).
Foxes are secondary consumers and are located in the third trophic level of the temperate forest food web (Tutor Vista, 2013). Foxes diets consist of rodents such as squirrels, rabbits, and birds. However, foxes are flexible with their eating habits and may eat fruits and vegetables, fish, frogs, and worms. Foxes are highly adaptable and can adapt well to other diverse environments such as forests, grasslands, mountains, and human environments such as farms, and suburban areas. Foxes are mainly hunted for sport, or through pest and rabies control (National Geographic, 2013).
Eagles are top predators, or tertiary consumers, that prey on small mammals, fish, and reptiles. Eagles contain special adaptations for survival. Their vision is four to eight times superior to that of humans. Their bony overhang above their eyes protects their eyes from the sun and potential injury as well as aids them in the hunt for food. Moreover, eagles have spicules or little bumps on the bottom of their feet that aid them in holding prey during flight and their curved beaks allow them to tear prey while eating (Blue Planet Biomes, 2013).
Temperate Forest Food Web
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Heidi B. Nirk
SCI/230 – Introduction to Life Science
Food Web Diagram
November 2, 2013