When you look at Canada on a map you see geographical boundaries that divide up one of the largest countries on earth. You hear us mention places like British Columbia and Yukon, or the Kawartha Region of Ontario... but what you don't hear mentioned is the actual diversity of the landscapes that we visit, and what the draw is for us.
From the tundra in the far reaches of the north, to the Boreal forest, the largest forest on earth, to the taiga, the world's largest land biome, and
This week we will be highlighting these three areas. So, please come back and visit our blog on Thursday and Friday to learn more about Canada, and the wonderful photographic opportunities that it has to offer.
Today we want to discuss the unique area called, the Tiaga
Taiga is the world's largest land biome, and makes up 29% of the world's forest cover, the largest areas are located in Russia and Canada. The taiga is the terrestrial biome with the lowest annual average temperatures after the tundra and permanent ice caps. Extreme winter minimums in the northern taiga are typically lower than those of the tundra. The lowest reliably recorded temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were recorded in the taiga of northeastern Russia. The taiga or boreal forest has a subarctic climate with very large temperature range between seasons, but the long and cold winter is the dominant feature. This also means that the short summer (24-hr average 10 °C (50 °F) or more) lasts 1–3 months and always less than 4 months. There are also some much smaller areas grading towards the oceanic climate with milder winters, whilst the extreme south and west of the taiga reaches into humid continental climates Twith longer summers.
The taiga experiences relatively low precipitation throughout the year (generally 200–750 mm annually, 1,000 mm in some areas), primarily as rain during the summer months, but also as fog and snow. This fog, especially predominant in low-lying areas during and after the thawing of frozen Arctic seas, means that sunshine is not abundant in the taiga even during the long summer days. As evaporation is consequently low for most of the year, precipitation exceeds evaporation, and is sufficient to sustain the dense vegetation growth. Snow may remain on the ground for as long as nine months in the northernmost extensions of the taiga ecozone. Since North America and Asia used to be connected by the Bering land bridge, a number of animal and plant species (more animals than plants) were able to colonize both continents and are distributed throughout the taiga biome. Others differ regionally, typically with each genus having several distinct species, each occupying different regions of the taiga. Taigas also have some small-leaved deciduous trees like birch, alder, willow, and poplar; mostly in areas escaping the most extreme winter cold.
The boreal forest, or taiga, supports a relatively small range of animals due to the harshness of the climate. Canada's boreal forest includes 85 species of mammals, 130 species of fish, and an estimated 32,000 species of insects. Insects play a critical role as pollinators, decomposers, and as a part of the food web. Many nesting birds rely on them for food in the summer months. The taiga is home to a number of large herbivorous mammals, such as moose and reindeer/caribou. Some areas of the more southern closed boreal forest also have populations of other deer species such as the elk and roe deer. The largest animal in the taiga is the wood bison, found in northern Canada.
Some larger mammals, such as bears, eat heartily during the summer in order to gain weight, and then go into hibernation during the winter. Other animals have adapted layers of fur or feathers to insulate them from the cold. Predatory mammals of the taiga must be adapted to travel long distances in search of scattered prey or be able to supplement their diet with vegetation or other forms of food. Mammalian predators of the taiga include Canada lynx, Eurasian lynx, stoat, Siberian weasel, least weasel, sable, American marten, North American river otter, European otter, American mink, wolverine, Asian badger, fisher, gray wolf, coyote, red fox, brown bear, American black bear, Asiatic black bear, polar bear (only small areas at the taiga - tundra ecotone) and Siberian tiger.
More than 300 species of birds have their nesting grounds in the taiga. Siberian thrush, white-throated sparrow, and black-throated green warbler migrate to this habitat to take advantage of the long summer days and abundance of insects found around the numerous bogs and lakes. Of the 300 species of birds that summer in the taiga only 30 stay for the winter. These are either carrion-feeding or large raptors that can take live mammal prey, including golden eagle, rough-legged buzzard (also known as the rough-legged hawk), and raven, or else seed-eating birds, including several species of grouse and crossbills.
In 2016 and 2017 we will be headed back to photograph these animals and this captivating region. Please check out our tours and workshops. You can find these tours and workshops here on our Canadian Workshop and Tour page here... http://northof49photography.com/photo-workshops/