Idaho is the 14th largest state in the
United States. It is about 300 miles wide, at its widest, and about
500 miles long. In the central and north central regions of Idaho and
in the Panhandle there are national forests covering approximately two
fifths of the state and constituting one of the largest areas of national
forests in the nation. In addition, Idaho also has deserts and wetlands.
These are all habitats.
Habitats are the natural environments of plants and animals. Earth has
many different habitats, from oceans to tropical rain forests, equatorial
deserts to Arctic tundra. Between these extremes are others, such as
grasslands, forests, rivers, lakes, and wetlands.
makes one habitat different from another? A combination of many things
creates a unique habitatincluding temperature, soil, rainfall,
light and geographic location. Let's learn about the Forests, Deserts
and Wetlands of Idaho. Visit
Dialogue4Kids previous topic,"Habitats."
has mainly a sagebrush steppe desert which includes the Great
Basin sagebrush desert to the south of us covering much of Nevada
and Utah, northeastern California, southeastern Oregon, and western
Wyoming. This desert is the largest of four in North
America, much of it above 4,000 in elevation. It is a cold desert
characterized by cold winters and hot summers. Snow is a common
sight in the winter, and moisture is limited to about 4 to 12 inches
provide critical habitat for numerous species, help clean our water,
control floods, and provide plenty of food for humans.
wetlands occur in areas with abundant moisture, such as in the mountains.
In the Rockies, look for them on the west side of watershed divides.
For example, forest wetlands occur more frequently on the Idaho
side of the Bitterroot Mountains, which receive more precipitation
than the Montana side.
Great Basin Desert, covers an arid expanse of about 190,000 square
miles and is bordered by the Sierra Nevada Range on the west and
the Rocky Mountains on the east, the Columbia Plateau to the north
and the Mojave and Sonoran deserts to the south.
you walk into a forest wetland, you'd notice that the air is often
cool, and the ground damp, if not soggy. Ferns and mosses may be
abundant, and other understory
plants thicker. Idaho's forest wetlands provide habitat for several
species of salamanders, toads, and several frogs. The Coeur d'Alene
salamander exists only in moist forest areas of northern Idaho where
rocky areas meet the wetlands.
is a cool or "cold desert" due to its more northern latitude,
as well as higher elevations. Precipitation is more evenly distributed
throughout the year than in the other three North American deserts.
Winter precipitation often falls as snow.
wetlands occur along streams, rivers, and irrigation canals throughout
the United States. They are particularly noticeable in western
states such as Idaho because they form ribbons of trees and shrubs
in an otherwise arid landscape.
this link to the Dialogue 4 Kids
website about Deserts.
this link to the Dialogue 4 Kids
website about Wetlands.
take a hike into fascinating forests
do you define a forest?
It is a complex community of organisms,
(in which trees are the dominant life-form) and their physical environment
interacting as a unit. Forests cover almost 1/3 of the Earth's land.
Five thousand years ago they covered over half
the Earth. Forests have been and still are important for many reasons.
Why are Forests important?
Healthy forests filter water, remove air
pollution, sequester carbon, and provide homes for wildlife and plants.
They prevent soil erosion and play a role in climate
control. Forests are places of beauty and recreation, provide
food, fuel and medicine for people all over the world. Probably most
importantly, forests produce large amounts of oxygen that we need to
breathe. Examine all the ways trees
work for us.
Do you think that an Idaho forest are is much like a forest in Bolivia?
No way! Forests are different all over the world.
things can help you determine what kind of forest you're looking
1. the climate (warm or cold)
2. the kinds of trees you see.
are three major types of forests. They are determined by their
all about them.
forests occur near the equator. They have only two seasons (rainy
and dry) and no winter. Tropical
Rainforest Facts http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/rainforest.htm
A tropical rain
forest has a thick top layer called the canopy.
This is where the tops of the trees meet to form a roof that does
not allow much sunlight to reach the layers below.
forests occur in eastern North America, northeastern Asia, and western
and central Europe. They also occur south of the Equator. They have 4
seasons including winter. Temperate forests consist of deciduous trees
and sometimes evergreens.
forests once covered the eastern half of what is now the United States,
but much of this temperate climate forest has been cut down to clear land
for crops and cities.
More about Deciduous
trees include maple, ash, oak, hickory, beech, and birch. They
have colorful leaves which fall to the ground each fall.
have needles instead of leaves. They never lose their needles which have
a special waxy coating which protects them in winter.
or taiga, occur between 50 and 60 degrees north latitudes. Boreal forests
can be found in Eurasia and North America: two-thirds in Siberia and in
Scandinavia, Alaska, and Canada. Taiga is the Earth's largest land habitat,
covering about 17 percent of Earth.
More about Boreal
are short, moist, and moderately warm. Winters are long, cold, and dry.
Precipitation is usually snow. Taiga is filled with evergreens such as
pine, fir, and spruce.
Fauna include woodpeckers, hawks, moose,
bear, weasel, lynx, fox, wolf, deer, hares, chipmunks, shrews, and bats.
large tree can provide a day's oxygen for four people!
animals of the temperate
animals of the
the tropical rainforest
A look at a tree cross
of the greatest threats to forests is fire. Fire can destroy not only
the lives and homes of the forests' plants and animals, but those of the
people who live nearby. Can a forest ever recover from a fire? Yes it
can, but, it can take long time! An average forest of trees is about 70-100
years old. And trees in some forests can be 4,000-5,000 years old.
Find out more about how you can
help forests and the environment.