Introduction

The boreal forest biome is also referred to as the 'taiga' (Russian for 'swamp forest'). Geographically, the boreal forest is located between latitudes 45° and 70° N, and virtually all of it is in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia, with portions in European Russia and Fennoscandia. The boreal forest is bordered on the north by treeless tundra and on the south by mixed forest. The boreal forest is termed a 'biome' by ecologists, a term that refers to a biogeographic unit that is distinguished from other biomes by the structure of its vegetation and dominant plant species. A biome is the largest scale at which ecologists classify vegetation. All parts of a biome tend to be within the same climatic conditions, but because local conditions differ, a biome may encompass many specific ecosystems (e.g., peatlands, river floodplains, uplands) and plant communities. Despite this diversity within a biome, in referring to the boreal forest we will here use the terms 'biome' and 'ecosystem type' interchangeably.

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