Temperate Rainforest

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Temperate Rainforest

A temperate rainforest is characterized by at least 70 inches of precipitation annually and cool year round temperatures averaging around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperate rainforest is influenced by temperate maritime weather. The largest stretch of temperate rainforest is located in the northwestern United States and the west coast of Canada. This temperate rainforest starts in Northern California extending up the coast through Oregon, Washington, Western British Columbia, and Southeast Alaska.

The temperate rainforest ecosystem is characterized by a dominance of coniferous trees interspersed with broadleaf deciduous trees. Many trees growing here have epiphytes (plants that live on the surface of other plants). The majority of epiphytes growing here are hanging lichens, mosses, and ferns. Due to the cool temperatures and lack of fire dependent ecology, the rate of decomposition in the temperate rainforest is slow. Because of this it contains more biomass (sheer mass of decaying and living stuff per square inch) than almost any other ecosystem in the world.

Is IslandWood considered part of the temperate rainforest ecosystem? This is a tricky question. IslandWood, as well as other coastal areas of Washington, Oregon, and northern California are considered to be seasonal temperate rainforests. This is because the summertime temperatures are warmer than 55 degrees fahrenheit and generally very dry, but the winters are temperate, cool, and wet- fitting the definition of a temperate rainforest ecosystem. IslandWood is a Douglas- Fir/Hemlock forest; this type of forest relies on fire ecology for regeneration. Also, the amount of rain that the Seattle area recieves annually is less than the average required in the definition of a temperate rainforest.The Seattle area gets about 37 inches of rain annually and the Olympic Peninsula gets anywhere from 15 inches of rain to 150 inches in Olympic National Park. Bainbridge Island probably recieves slightly more rain than Seattle, but not reaching 70 inches.

Sources: Pojar, Mackinnon.1994. BC Ministries of Forest and Lonepine Publishing. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast.
Biology Department, Marietta College. Marietta, Ohio. 2/2008. http://www.marietta.edu/~biol/biomes/temprain.htm
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperate_rainforest#Definition