5 Abiotic Factors in Temperate Forest Ecosystem Explained

Abiotic factors in temperate forest ecosystem are; sunlight, soil, topography, temperature, and water.


This article discusses the abiotic factors in temperate forests, as follows;






1). Sunlight (as one of the Abiotic Factors in Temperate Forest Ecosystem)

The conditions of a temperate forest include moderate annual precipitation, temperature and sunlight.

Sunlight directly influences the characteristics of temperate forests, because solar energy is the primary energy resource that drives hydrological cycles and energy pyramids, which are comprised of the continuous recycling of biomass and bioenergy.

Temperate forests receive at least 5.5 hours of sunlight during the summer, and less then 4.0 hours at other times of the year. This is much less than that for tropical rainforests, which receive up to 12 hours of sunlight daily.

Because of the direct influence of sunlight on the biotic components of ecosystems, tropical forests tend to have greater plant and animal biodiversity, as well as numerical abundance of organisms at all trophic levels.

Abiotic Factors in Temperate Forest Ecosystem: Sunlight (Credit: Joseph Young 2015 .CC0 1.0.)
Abiotic Factors in Temperate Forest Ecosystem: Sunlight (Credit: Joseph Young 2015 .CC0 1.0.)






2). Soil

Temperate forests have rich soil, because biodegradation rates are less rapid than tropical forests, and therefore allow the soil to retain more humus, organic carbon and other nutrients that are essential for plant growth.

The richness of temperate forest soil can also be attributed to the fact that it is shallow compared to soils in grasslands and tropical forests. This increases the soil-to-nutrient ratio and reduces the rate of downward leaching.

Types of soils in temperate forests include inceptisols, alfisols, ultisols, spodosols and andisols. These have varying origins, compositions, and characteristics.

Of the different soils present in a temperate forest, the most common and typical include alfisols, ultisols and inceptisols [1] [3].

Characteristics of temperate forest soils include; high fertility, organic content, and oxidized iron content.






3). Topography (as one of the Abiotic Factors in Temperate Forest Ecosystem)

Geographic conditions of temperate forests include; mid-latitudinal position, 750-1,500 mm annual precipitation, winter and summer seasons [1].

The geographic features of temperate forests include; valleys, mountains, hills, plateaux and level land.

Temperate forest topography is highly variable, as a result of the active tectonic history of the mid-latitude region; where repetitive cycles of volcanic eruption, rifting, and orogeny (mountain formation) have occurred.

The topographic conditions of any given temperate forest usually affect the drainage, regional temperature, precipitation, animal and plant species.

Also, the active tectonic history of the mid latitude can be used to understand the shallow nature of temperate forest soils, which indicates that the effect of soil erosion has been minimal in comparison to volcanic and orogenic processes over the years.






4). Temperature

Temperature conditions in the temperate forest are variable, ranging from warm summers to cool springs and cold winters.

The average temperature in temperate forests all year round is about 50°F (10°C).

In summer, temperate forests can experience up to 70°F (21°C) temperature on average; while this can drop to -22°F (-30°C)in winter.

Both the range and variability of daily and annual temperatures in temperate rainforests depend on other abiotic factors, like precise geographic location, topography and drainage. However, species that occur in this biome are those which are adapted to winter and summer alternations.






5). Water (as one of the Abiotic Factors in Temperate Forest Ecosystem)

Temperate forests are generally wet and play a role in the supply of fresh water to the global ecosystem through natural hydrological cycling [5].

Types of water in a temperate forest include freshwater, saltwater and brackish water [2].

It must however be noted that these different water types occur in various forms, and freshwater is generally dominant.

Forms in which water occurs in a temperate forest include; rainfall, snow, groundwater, ponds, river tributaries, and swamps. Dry land areas also occur where water resources are scarcely available.

While water supply to temperate forests is much less than that of tropical rainforests, it is sufficient for significant plant growth and animal survival.

Temperate forests receive approximately 30 to 60 inches of rainfall per year, although there is high variability between the various seasons.

Also, the rate of water consumption in temperate forests is comparatively low [4].

Processes that dominate the hydrological cycle of temperate forests include transpiration, evaporation, condensation and precipitation.

Abiotic Factors in Temperate Forests: Water (Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture 2020)
Abiotic Factors in Temperate Forests: Water (Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture 2020)







Abiotic factors in temperate forests are;

1. Sunlight

2. Soil

3. Topography

4. Temperature

5. Water







1). Adams, M. B.; Kelly, C.; Kabrick, J.; Schuler, J. (2019). "Chapter 6 - Temperate forests and soils." Developments in Soil Science, Volume 36, 2019, Pages 83-108. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-63998-1.00006-9. (Accessed 2 February 2023).

2). Bauholz, H. (2018). "Bodies of Water in the Deciduous Forest." Available at: https://sciencing.com/bodies-water-deciduous-forest-8358643.html. (Accessed 2 February 2023).

3). Crystal, M. (2019). "Soil Types in Temperate Deciduous Forests." Available at: https://sciencing.com/taiga-soil-types-12428723.html. (Accessed 2 February 2023).

4). Mátyás, C.; Sun, G. (2014). "Forests in a water limited world under climate change." Environmental Research Letters 9(8):085001. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/9/8/085001. (Accessed 2 February 2023).

5). Núñez, D.; Nahuelhual, L.; Ovarzun, C. (2006). "Forests and water: The value of native temperate forests in supplying water for human consumption." Ecological Economics 58(3):606-616. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2005.08.010. (Accessed 2 February 2023).

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