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How Animals Adapt to the Temperate Woodlands

written by: Sonal Panse•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 8/16/2010

Temperate woodlands are rapidly shrinking. They are home to many animal species that are not found anywhere else in the world. How do animals adapt to temperate woodlands? Let us take a brief look.

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    Animals have to adapt to their particular environment in order to be able to hunt, forage, mate, reproduce and survive. As a result, animals in different regions have developed unique characteristics that allow them to thrive in that particular climate. These include physical traits as well as behavioral habits. So how do animals adapt to temperate woodlands? Well, let us first understand what temperate woodlands are.

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    Temperate Woodlands

    Petroglyphs Forest - Photo by W-van 

    The word temperate means moderate. Regions with a temperate climate are neither too hot nor too cold. They generally have four distinct seasons, spring, summer, fall and winter. The temperate forests receive around 30 to 60 inches of rain throughout all seasons of the year, and the average temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit.The trees in the temperate climatic zone are mainly broad-leaved and deciduous, but may also contain some evergreen varieties. The trees are spaced apart, with some undergrowth and ground cover, and are equipped to deal with the varying seasonal changes. The trees, if they are deciduous, shed their leaves in the fall in preparation for the cold, snowy winters, and put on new leaf growth in the spring. Trees that are in this habitat include maple trees, beech trees, hickory trees, and oak trees. Temperate woodlands can be found in Europe, North-Eastern America, Eastern Asia, South Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, South Africa, Chile and the areas around the Mediterranean Sea. The temperate woodlands are home to around 3000 species of animals. Some of these animals are unique to the temperate woodlands and are not found elsewhere.

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    Animal Adaptations in Temperate Woodlands

    To thrive in the temperate zone, the animals here must be able to cope with the climate changes and the food sources available during the different seasons. Here are some broad characteristics of the temperate zone animals -

    • The animals generally have brown, black, gray or white coloring for camouflage purposes. With their muted coloring, they can blend in better with their surroundings and this helps them escape detection by predators.
    • They may live in warrens, tunnels, holes or caves.
    • Some animals are nocturnal to avoid the heat of the day.
    • Some animals may hibernate during the cold winters.
    • The small animals eat plant leaves and smaller creatures. Carnivorous larger animals hunt smaller ones.
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    Animals in the Temperate Woodlands

    USDA Elk 

    Animals in the temperate woodlands include

    • Ungulates like Elk, Pampas deer, Bighorn sheep and Spanish ibex.
    • Carnivores like Cougar, Tiger, Jaguar, Gray fox, Arctic wolf, Giant panda, Asiatic Black Bear, Weasel and Raccoon.
    • Marsupials like Kangaroos, Possums, Wallabies.
    • Primates like Rhesus Macaque and Barbary Ape.
    • Rodents like Eurasian Red Squirrel, Gray-footed Chipmunk, Asia Minor Spiny Mouse and White-footed Vole.
    • Arctic Hares and Mexican Cottontail.

    The temperate woodlands are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world today. Temperate woodland species are threatened by loss of habitat due to deforestation, hunting, fire and development.

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    Resources

    Parliament of New South Wales

    http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/PARLMENT/hansArt.nsf/V3Key/LC20040914036

    Global Mediterranean Action Network

    http://www.mediterraneanaction.net/ma_v2/about_biome/index.jsp

    Photo Credits -

    Forest - Photo by W-van - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Petroglyphs_Forest.JPG

    Elk - Photo by Ron Nichols - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USDA_Elk.jpg