Temperate forests are found in the eastern part of the United States, northeastern Asia and throughout western and central Europe. There is also a large area in southern Chile and another along the coast of Paraguay. New Zealand and Australia also have temperate forests.
Temperatures in these biomes average 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but can vary from -22 degrees Fahrenheit to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally, temperate forests receive between 30 to 60 inches of rainfall each year. The soil here is rich due to decaying litter from trees and plants.
Within the temperate forests are five zones. The trees within this biome are deciduous, meaning they drop their leaves as the weather becomes cooler. The tree stratum is the area where trees like oaks, chestnuts, hickories, elms, beeches, sweetgums, maples, basswoods, lindens and walnuts may be found. This biome will usually extend to the fir and pine trees of the taiga biome.
The next area is the location where saplings or small trees may be found. The third is home to shrubs such as rhododendrons, azaleas, mountain laurel, and huckleberries. Herbs are in the fourth area as well as other shorter plants. The last area is the ground zone. This is the area where lichens, club mosses and true mosses call home.
Temperate forest biomes also have four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The trees mark the seasons by budding and starting to leaf in the spring, in summer they are in full leaf. In autumn the leaves change color before falling in the winter.
Many kinds of animals reside in the temperate forest biomes. Some of the wildlife includes deer, frogs, gray squirrels, robins, raccoons and snakes. Many of these adapt to the winter weather either by migrating or by hibernating. Most of the animals survive by dining on nuts or acorns, or they are omnivores.
Quite a bit of the original land in this biome has been lost to agricultural use, due to the high fertility of the soil. In North America, practically all of the temperate forests are from second growth. In Europe, only a few of the original species from these areas have survived. In North America, the majority of the plants come from the original species.
Besides agriculture, other threats to temperate forest biomes come from development, logging and acid rain.
With a little care from mankind, these biomes can survive to provide fresh air, healthy grown and a variety of plants and animals for centuries to come.