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Coniferous Forests

Coniferous Forests

Author: Meagan Leatherbury
  1. Provide real world examples in order to develop a concept map or chart outlining the locations and characteristics of coniferous forests.

  2. Explore the vegetation and life within this environment, and the precarious balance needed to maintain that life.

  3. Introduce the new vocabulary and definitions, reiterating them throughout the lesson.

  4. Keep to the basic information with activities to allow practice with the new content material.

This learning packet should help a learner seeking to understand the varied and diverse environment of the coniferous forests and its effect on living things.

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Coniferous forest podcast

This short, 4-minute podcast explains what coniferous forests are, where they are found and why they are important. Scroll down while listening to the podcast to see photos that correspond to the information you will be hearing.

Source: coniferous forest. (2011). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from Tobin A.J. & Dusheck J. (1998). Asking About Life. Orlando, FL: Saunders College Publishing.

Map of continents where you can find coniferous forests

Coniferous forests are found in colder places. They are found in continents in the Northern Hemisphere and at high altitudes such as those you might experience while climbing mountains. The map below shows the three continents where coniferous forest can typically be found.

Photo of the world with North america, Asia and Europe circled

Source: Photo by Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason at

Trees in coniferous forests

Coniferous forests are composed primarily of conifer trees (or evergreens). Conifers are often referred to as evergreens because they have needle-like leaves that do not fall off the tree in autumn. The needle-like leaves of the conifer tree are important in helping the tree to preserve water. Another feature of conifer trees are their cones.

coniferous tree branch with cones

Importance of coniferous forests

Coniferous forests, like all forests, sustain life. They provide habitat for many different animals. You will find small animals such as insects, shrews, squirrels, woodpeckers and nuthatches in these forests. You might also find larger animals such as hawks, owls, wolves and moose. What you are not likely to find are cold-blooded amphibians and reptiles like frogs and lizards. These forests are too cold and shady for them.



   Though we may not like them, mosquitos and other insects provide a valuable

   source of food for other animals.


nuthatch on treetrunk

   Smaller birds like woodpeckers and nuthatches make their nests in trees and

   also hunt for insects under the bark of trees.



squirrel   Small mammals like squirrels, shrews and voles find shelter in coniferous

   forests. While voles and shrews prefer to live underground, squirrels use trees

   for nesting. The seeds inside the cones of trees provide a food source rich in

    fats and nutrients that are great for squirrels as they fatten up for winter.




   Luckily for owls, hawks and other birds of prey, coniferous forests provide

   many different animals they can hunt for food. These hunters of small

   mammals keep the rodent and small mammal population under control as

   they dine.







   Though you won't find them in every coniferous forest because of the large

   range of space wolves need in order to survive, they can be found in these

   types of habitats. Wolves feed off of smaller mammals as well as larger

   mammals such as deer.




Photo credits:

nuthatch by qmnonic at:

mosquito by edans at:

owl by suneko at:

squirrel by peasap at:

wolf by at


Source: coniferous forest. (2011). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from

Coniferous Forests slideshow review

This slideshow allows you to review the information presented here and to test your understanding and recall of the information.

Source: Slideshow created by Meagan Leatherbury