Plants and Animal Survival in Temperate Regions

The temperate regions of the world are those areas that fall between the Topics, Cancer and Capricorn, and the polar regions, Arctic and Antarctic. While the tropics are considered always warm or even hot and the polar regions are generally cold, the temperate regions can show extreme variation, with temperature exceeding those of the equator and dropping as low as those found at the North or South Poles. The weather patterns are also much more variable, suffering both tropical storms such as hurricanes and blizzards in the wintertime. Plants and animals in the temperate biomes have to have an amazing ability to adapt and survive in these regions.

Animals adapt to these extremes through a variety of techniques. Some migrate up and down, moving from place to place to avoid temperature and climatic extremes. They are also locating food and water, and breeding so they have young at optimum times. Few non-biologists realize that animals are keyed to specific light and temperature cycles for reproduction, most ovulate in the fall, breed and then give birth in the spring.

Animals can also hibernate, avoiding the colder weather when food is scarce. They also estivate, a type of warm weather physical shutdown for when the weather or conditions become too hot and dry. These attributes allow them to survive both when the weather is too cold for food or too dry. Animals also store up fat and energy reserves.

What about plants in the temperate biomes? They can’t move or migrate and hiding in a cave doesn’t work for them. They can and do change as a result of the weather and climate, and do breed at optimum times for survival of their offspring! Their roots store massive amounts of water and food to get through dry periods, a temperate tree has roots that can go twenty or thirty feet below ground and spread out as far as the canopy. The starch in the roots serves the same purpose as the fat in animals. The ground stays at ambient temperature in most places and in temperate regions this is usually around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the water flowing through the plants helps them survive cold weather.

Plants also change their chemical compositions to drive away insects and shed leaves during cold periods or droughts, this decreases evaporation which results in water loss as well as temperature. Some may even produce a wax coating to decrease water loss as well, it also stops boring insects!

Plants and animals of the temperate forests are adaptable and variable, they have to be just to survive!