Deciduous Forest

Basic Info

The deciduous forest is alive with sound and color from the many organisms whose habitats are in these forests.
(Fink, Martin Patricia, pg 1-207)


The deciduous forest is mostly made up of deciduous trees. These are trees that lose their leaves at a certain time each year and then later grow new leaves to replace them. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn. However, before the leaves die, the food material that they contain is drawn back into twigs and branches and is stored there to be used in the spring. Losing its leaves helps the tree conserve water in the winter. Some examples of deciduous trees are ash, beech, birch, maple, oak, hickories, aspens, and larch trees. The trees are extremely vital for the deciduous habitat. They protect the soil, keep the water clean, and provide habitats and food for other organisms. The amount of trees in a forest can also alter the temperature, humidity, and wind speed of that certain habitat.

Layers of the Deciduous Forest

The Deciduous forest is made up of 5 layers: the canopy, the understory,the shrubs layer, the herb layer, and the ground layer. The canopy is the highest layer of trees. Because of the hard conditions in this layer, not many animals live in the canopy of the woods. The understory is made up of the smaller trees. In this layer there are insects, birds such as vireos, warblers, and flycatchers, squirrels, porcupines, flying squirrels, and songbirds. There are many animals in this layer of the forest because they are protected by the canopy from storms and flying predators, but at the same time they are high enough to avoid predators on the forest floor. Next is the shrub layer which is the home of birds, insects, small animals, deer mice, chipmunks, and shrews. Under the shrubs is the herb layer of the forest. This area includes ferns, grasses, lichens, and wildflowers. This is also the habitat of snakes, mice, turtles, birds, and insects searching for nectar in the flowers. Lastly, there is the ground layer which consists of mosses, lichens, and liverworts.
(Fink, Martin Patricia, pg 1-207)


Black Bear

Class: Mammaila
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Scientific Name: Ursus americanus
The Black Bear is one of the many animals that calls the deciduous forest its home. In the United States, these bears can be found from New England to Louisiana and in the mountainous western U.S. THeir diet consists of mail fruits, insects, fish, and small mammals but they also eat nuts roots and honey. Although they are called the Black Bear, they can actually vary in color from reddish brown and glossy black to almost completely white. Black Bears are nocturnal and roam the forest at night in search of food. In the fall, Black Bears fatten themselves to prepare for hibernation. Their sleep lasts throughout the cold weather of deciduous winter.
Black Bear
Black Bear



Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Cardinalinae
Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis
The Cardinal is one of the many bird species that inhabit the deciduous forest. They are found in New England, the Great Lakes, and from Arizona to the Gulf Coast. Although the Cardinal is known for its brilliant red feathers, it is actually only the males that have this bright red color. The female Cardinals are brown with red beaks and a slight red tinge on their wings. These birds are very territorial and eat mainly seeds. However, during the breeding season they are also known to eat insects.


Habitat in a Dead Log

Wood Eaters
  • Bark beetles
  • Larvae of clinch beetles and wood borers
  • Long horned beetles
  • Engraver beetles
  • Bessbugs
  • Carpenter ants
  • Termites
  • Mites
  • Millipedes
  • Pill Bugs
  • Wood Roaches
  • Snails
  • Slugs
  • Earthworms
  • Spiders
  • Salamanders
  • Centipedes
(Allaby, Michael, pg 1-490)

Food Web

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external image EL_MSLS_FoodChain1.gif
("Sky Hunters Environmental Education." )


The Climate in the Deciduous Forest is greatly affected by the tilt of the earth's axis. As our planet revolves around the sun, it's axis stays tilted, causing the four seasons of the deciduous forest. During the spring and summer months, the deciduous forest ranges in temperatures from cool to warm. In the fall and winter, the forests will get very cold. These changes of the season not only affect the temperature in the forest but also alter the form of precipitation it receives.


Temperatures throughout year
external image temperature.gif
The Purple line on the graph above shows the changes in temerature in the deciduous forest throughout the year. The average temperature of the deciduous forest is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperate forest has four changing seasons, and as the seasons change, so do the colors of the leaves of the deciduous trees. The four seasons happen because of the tilt of the Earth on its axis. During each season, the sun's rays hit the earth either more or less directly.


Precipitation throughout year
external image rainfall.gif
The purple bar on the graph above shows the average inches of rainfall per year in the deciduous forest. On average, the deciduous forest receives around 60 inches of raifall per year. Next to the rainforest, the deciduous forest gets the second-most amount of rainfall per year.


Sunlight is what causes deciduous trees to shed their leaves in the fall and winter. When the air is warm, the broad leaves are able to absorb plenty of sunlight. However, when the temperatures drop, the broad leaves expose the trees to water loss. To prevent loss of water, trees shed their leaves in the colder months and store the sugars produced by the leaves in the branches.
("Earth Floor")
external image Sunlight-in-Woodland_493997.jpg
("Sunlight in Woodland (From RSPCA)." )


Carbon and nitrogen are recycled in a forest very efficiantly. Forest plants and soil microbes exract these elements from the soil and air and use them to make molecules for growth.
external image NitrogenCycle-lgr-F.jpg
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external image WaterCycle-optimized.jpg
(Figure 5.1. Conceptualization of the Water Cycle (Schematic view)." )

external image carbon_cycle_diagram.jpg


Major Deciduous Forests
Major Deciduous Forests

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Deciduous Autumn
Deciduous Autumn

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Deciduous Forest

Planet Earth: Seasonal Forests Trailer


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