Temperate Forest Biotic Factors and Their Characteristics

5 Temperate Forest Biotic Factors and Their Characteristics Discussed

Temperate forest biotic factors are; autotrophic producers, herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and decomposers.

This article discusses biotic factors in the temperate forest ecosystem, as follows;







1). Autotrophic Producers in the Temperate Forest (as one of the Temperate Forest Biotic Factors)

Autotrophic producers constitute a very important biotic factor in the temperate forest, because of their roles that range from photosynthetic production of biomass and bioenergy, to carbon sequestration and micro-habitat formation.

The producers in temperate forests include temperate plants, which could be vascular or non-vascular, and photosynthetic microbes like algae and cyanobacteria [6]. Microbial producers are auxiliary in their role and importance, and are often omitted from discussions or analyses of temperate forest producers.

Examples of producers in the temperate forest are; shrubs, trees, ferns, mosses and lichens,

Temperate forest shrubs are relatively low-height plants that fall behind trees in the vertical outlay of the forest structure or canopy. This means that they are part of the understory layer of temperate forests, and can thrive with less amount of solar radiation than treed.

Some shrubs in temperate forests are; blueberry, azalea, and rhododendron.

Trees can be described as the most dominant group of producers in temperate forests.

They also grow to the greatest height among producers, and occupy the topmost layer of the forest canopy. Temperate forest trees are known for their effective role as carbon sinks, that regulate the climate, and mitigate climate change within their environment [5].

Examples of temperate forest trees are; maple, spruce, oak, and beech.

Like shrubs, ferns occupy the understory layer of temperate forests. They are non-woody plants that reproduce using spores, and have specially-adapted physiological features like fronds.

Lichens and mosses are the two most productive, non-vascular plants that can be found in temperate forests. They lack well-developed stems and leaves, and grow close to the ground, among grasses and other low-lying plants on the forest floor.

Autotrophic producers are classified as biotic factors in temperate forests, because they are organic in origin and composition; and are involved in multiple biological processes like photosynthesis, feeding, reproduction and biodegradation; all of which are essential toward the continuity and sustainability of the ecosystem.






2). Herbivores in the Temperate Forest

Herbivores are crucial to the temperate forest as a result of their role in transferring energy from producers to the rest of the temperate food chain.

Temperate forest herbivores are heterotrophic consumers that feed exclusively on plant biomass, which could be in the form of fruits, seeds, leaves, and twigs among other plant-derived materials.

As a biotic factor, herbivores contribute to the species richness and biodiversity of temperate forests, and are instrumental toward influencing the growth, geographic distribution and adaptation of plants, which they consume as food.

Examples of herbivores that occur in temperate forests are; rodents like squirrel and mice; insects like grasshopper; and large mammals like deer.

Rodents are a particularly-active group of herbivores in temperate forests. They are diverse in physiological and behavioral details; and exhibit a wide range of features from color-camouflage and burrowing behavior, to agility and dietary versatility.

These attributes account for the relatively-high rate of reproduction among herbivorous rodents in temperate forests. Examples of these rodents include; hares, squirrels, rabbits, voles and mice.

Asides grasshoppers, other herbivorous insects that consume plant material in temperate forests are beetles and caterpillars [7].

Large mammals like deer are the most common and ecologically-dominant herbivores in temperate forests. This can be attributed to factors like their size and environmental footprint per-individual.

Examples of large mammalian herbivores in the temperate forest are; elk, and white-tailed deer.

Temperate Forest Biotic Factors: Large Mammals like White-Tailed Deer are Among the Most Dominant Herbivores in Temperate Forests (Credit: James St. John 2008, uploaded online 2012 .CC BY 2.0.)
Temperate Forest Biotic Factors: Large Mammals like White-Tailed Deer are Among the Most Dominant Herbivores in Temperate Forests (Credit: James St. John 2008, uploaded online 2012 .CC BY 2.0.)






3). Carnivores in the Temperate Forest (as one of the Temperate Forest Biotic Factors)

Carnivores in the temperate forest are relatively abundant in the third trophic level of the food chain, where they are referred to as 'secondary consumers'.

Typically, temperate forest carnivores obtain nutrients and energy by feeding on herbivores, and other animals that may be vulnerable due to their size or level of biological advancement.

Examples of carnivores in the temperate forest are; bobcat (Lynx rufus), coyote (Canis latrans), and gray wolf (Canis lupus).

Bobcats are solitary, adaptive felines that have significant agility, stealth and skill for capturing prey, which includes smaller animals like mice and squirrels.

As a canid, the coyote is one of the few representatives of its phylum in temperate forests. It is also one of the most ecologically resilient and adaptive animals in the northern hemisphere as a whole, and thrives in deserts, mangroves, tundras, prairies, and even urban areas [2].

The coyote's diet is similar to that of the bobcat, including birds, reptiles and small mammals. Due to their adaptive nature, coyotes can also consume plant materials like fruits and vegetation [4], especially where food-availability constraints occur.

Gray wolf is a larger canid than the coyote, and, although less-adaptive and widespread, can be far more territorially-dominant. The diet of this carnivore consists of large mammalian herbivores like elk, as well as smaller animals like rodents.

Carnivores are viewed as a biotic factor in the temperate forest because their activities lead influence how bioenergy and organic matter are conserved, transformed and transferred within the ecosystem, from one trophic level to another.






4). Omnivores in the Temperate Forest

The omnivorous population in temperate forests is a biotic factor that comprises of organisms which are adapted to a versatile diet of both plant and animal food sources.

Multiple omnivores can be found in the temperate forest. These animals are the product of adaptive evolution under constraints that affect the stability of supply for their preferred food-source(s).

As a result, while many of them are predominantly carnivorous, they have also learned to rely on plants as an alternative source of nutrients and energy.

Examples of omnivores in the temperate forest are; black bear (Ursus americanus), racoon (Procyon lotor), and opossum (Didelphis virginiana).

The black bear is both an omnivore and apex predator in its territory. Its diet consists of small mammals, fish, insects, and plant matter like nuts, fruits and twigs.

Raccoons are members of the Procyonidae taxonomic family [1], and are both invasive and adaptable, relying on various sources of food like fish, small mammals, insects, bird-eggs, nuts and fruits.

The opossum is an omnivorous marsupial [3] that occurs in parts of North America, and feeds on insects, bird eggs, smaller animals, carrion, nuts and fruits.

Temperate Forest Animals: The Opossum is an Omnivorous Marsupial in Parts of North America (Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region 2020)
Temperate Forest Animals: The Opossum is an Omnivorous Marsupial in Parts of North America (Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region 2020)






5). Decomposers in the Temperate Forest (as one of the Temperate Forest Biotic Factors)

Decomposers in the temperate forest are organisms that contribute to the biodegradation of breakdown, of organic matter from plant and animal sources.

They are important to the ecosystem because their activities help in the natural recycling of nutrients and energy resources.

The most common examples of decomposers in temperate forests are microorganisms like bacteria and fungi, which are abundant in the soil.

Asides these microbes, some macroscopic organisms described as detrivores may also help to breakdown organic matter. These organisms gain nutrients by breaking down organic litter or detritus, and include millipedes and earthworms.







Temperate forest biotic factors are;

1. Autotrophic Producers

2. Herbivores

3. Carnivores

4. Omnivores

5. Decomposers






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2). Gehrt, S. (2007). "Ecology of coyotes in urban landscapes." Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/252881542_Ecology_of_coyotes_in_urban_landscapes. (Accessed 30 May 2023).

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5). Liski, J.; Korotkov, A. V.; Prins, C. F. L.; Karjalainen, T.; Victor, D. G.; Kauppi, P. (2003). "Increased Carbon Sink in Temperate and Boreal Forests." Climatic Change 61(1):89-99. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1026365005696. (Accessed 30 May 2023).

6). Samolov, E.; Baumann, K.; Büdel, B.; Jung, P.; Leinweber, P.; Mikhailyuk, T.; Karsten, U.; Glaser, K. (2020). "Biodiversity of Algae and Cyanobacteria in Biological Soil Crusts Collected Along a Climatic Gradient in Chile Using an Integrative Approach." Microorganisms. 2020 Jul 14;8(7):1047. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms8071047. (Accessed 30 May 2023).

7). Singer, M. S.; Clark, R. E.; Johnson, E. R.; Lichter-Marck, I.; Mooney, K. A.; Whitney, K. (2019). "Dietary specialization is conditionally associated with increased ant predation risk in a temperate forest caterpillar community." Ecology and Evolution 9(7). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5662. (Accessed 30 May 2023).

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