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The World of Northern Evergreens$
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E. C. Pielou

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801477409

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801477409.001.0001

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Life on the Forest Floor

Life on the Forest Floor

(p.74) Chapter 7 Life on the Forest Floor
The World of Northern Evergreens

E. C. Pielou

Cornell University Press

This chapter looks at the ecosystem of the forest floor. The forest floor consists chiefly of soil. One of the most distinctive soils is podsol, the typical soil in conifer forests. This soil is easily recognizable if you expose it by digging a hole, or even more easily by seeing it exposed in an eroding stream bank. It has a thin, dark top layer of packed needle-leaf litter gradually decaying into humus (newly decomposed material with organic ingredients only). Immediately below that is a layer, often thick, of almost pure white sand. The soil is cold, acidic, and sometimes wet. The most common flowers on the coniferous forest floor belong to three families: one, of plants that prefer acid soil; a second, of epiparasitic plants; and a third, of ancestors of the epiparasites. The remainder of the chapter discusses the floor of the boreal forest; the value of dead wood and debris; and animals found in the evergreen forest—beavers, birds, and ducks.

Keywords:   forest floor, coniferous forests, acid soil, forest ecosystem, epiparasitic plants, boreal forest, podsol, dead wood

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