Panorama: temperate rainforest

Title Info
Common name Spruce, Sitka
Scientific name Picea sitchensis
Taxonomic group Pinaceae
Source Dan L. Perlman
Ecosystems Forests
Forests Temperate rainforest
Nutrient cycles Nitrogen; Decomposition
Change over time Decomposition
Conservation Nature preserves
Lessons Panoramas
Date April 14, 2010
Location Hoh River Valley,Olympic National Park,Washington,USA,North America
Panorama of Temperate rainforest Olympic Peninsula Washington
Related materials: Panoramas
You may want to discuss with your students the nutrient cycling going on in this old-growth forest. As the giant conifers die and fall down, their tons of biomass become slowly available to the other inhabitants of the ecosystem as detritivores and decomposers slowly break down the dead plants. Consider, too, the different microhabitats found in this ecosystem: the forest floor, the surface of downed trees, tree branches and trunks -- small plants and animals have a wide array of microclimates and microhabitats available to them.

Panorama Viewing: Click the "View Panorama" button to see an interactive panorama. Click and drag your mouse in any direction to view other parts of the scene; press the Shift key to zoom in to see details and press Ctrl to zoom out.
We recommend using the Deval VR viewer for seeing panoramas that do NOT have sound and the QuickTime viewer for panoramas WITH sound.

Temperate rainforests occur very few places on the planet, and a narrow strip of the Pacific coast of North America is the best area to see this remarkable ecosystem type. The Hoh River Valley is reported to receive about 3.5-4m (12-14ft) of rainfall per year, which creates a forest dripping with epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants), as seen here. In addition, some of these North American temperate rainforests are thought to contain more biomass per unit area than any other terrestrial ecosystem, although the diversity of species found here is just a small fraction of a tropical rainforest. Just to the right of the large double-trunked Sitka spruce you can see a slowly decaying "nurse log" that supports several young trees that began life as seedlings on the log.