- LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0085
- LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0085
The boreal biome, with vast forests across northern North America, Europe, and Asia, has been of interest since the science of ecology got its start in the late 1800s. Many also refer to the boreal forest as “taiga,” and the two terms are considered interchangeable here. Scientists, conservationists, and forest managers have long realized that the difficulty of traveling in the remote territory of the boreal forest offers the chance to characterize the natural ecological function and design effective conservation strategies prior to large-scale exploitation by humans. There are key insights to be gained into ecological theories related to community structure, trophic structure, disturbance ecology, and landscape ecology. Large-scale intact boreal ecosystems allow studies of trophic interactions including top-level predators, landscape dynamics created by natural disturbance, and comparison of natural and human disturbance. Boreal forests reign supreme as places to study large-scale high-severity fires. Essentially, boreal forests have the room to make it possible to carry out studies that cannot be done in the temperate zones, where so much of the landscape has been converted to human usages. These forests also have a large impact on global ecology through interactions with the climate system, carbon storage, and timber resources. The global importance of the boreal forest in the context of global warming has propelled a rapidly growing investment in research during the last few decades.
Several synthetic works on boreal ecosystem dynamics bring together topics such as disturbance, climate, plant, and animal communities, nutrient cycling, and human impacts. These highlight long-standing areas of excellence in research on the boreal biome from Alaska in Chapin, et al. 2006; central North America in Heinselman 1996; and Scandinavia in Hari and Kulmala 2008. Larson 1980 synthesizes all of North America, while Andersson 2005 and Shugart, et al. 1992 attempt global syntheses that include North America and Eurasia.
Andersson, F., ed. 2005. Ecosystems of the world 6: Coniferous forests. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
A comprehensive overview of the world’s conifer-dominated forests. Chapters 2 and 3 cover boreal forests of Eurasia and North America, respectively.
Chapin, F. S., M. W. Oswood, K. Van Cleve, L. A. Viereck, and D. L. Verblya, eds. 2006. Alaska’s changing boreal forest. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.
A contemporary synthesis of history, community ecology, disturbance, landscape, and biogeochemical processes in the boreal forest of Alaska in the context of changing climate.
Hari, Pertii, and Liisa Kulmala, eds. 2008. Boreal forest and climate change. London: Springer.
A synthesis of boreal forest ecosystem processes related to carbon balance, water, nutrients, and the atmosphere from scientists at the University of Helsinki. A model of boreal forest ecosystem response to changing climate is developed, along with discussion of interactions between the boreal forest and climate.
Heinselman, M. L. 1996. The boundary waters wilderness ecosystem. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.
An integrative look at the boreal forest of northern Minnesota, including fire history, successional patterns after disturbance, pre- and post-European settlement human history, climate, geology, physiography, soils, wildlife ecology, and potential responses to climate change.
Larson, James A. 1980. The boreal ecosystem. New York: Academic.
A general work on many aspects of the boreal forest, including history, climate, soils, plant communities, nutrient cycling, forest productivity, and forest economy. The book concentrates on the North American boreal forest but contains many references to Eurasian boreal forests.
Shugart, H. H., R. Leemans, and G. B. Bonan, eds. 1992. A systems analysis of the global boreal forest. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
A synthesis of knowledge about boreal forest ecosystems in North America and Europe. Includes some of the best early modeling efforts on insect and fire dynamics, and tree/forest population dynamics that form the foundation for today’s research on those topics.
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- Accounting for Ecological Capital
- Allocation of Reproductive Resources in Plants
- Animals, Functional Morphology of
- Animals, Reproductive Allocation in
- Animals, Thermoregulation in
- Antarctic Environments and Ecology
- Applied Ecology
- Aquatic Conservation
- Aquatic Nutrient Cycling
- Archaea, Ecology of
- Assembly Models
- Bacterial Diversity in Freshwater
- Benthic Ecology
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
- Biodiversity Patterns in Agricultural Systms
- Biological Chaos and Complex Dynamics
- Biome, Alpine
- Biome, Boreal
- Biome, Desert
- Biome, Grassland
- Biome, Savanna
- Biome, Tundra
- Biomes, African
- Biomes, East Asian
- Biomes, Mountain
- Biomes, North American
- Biomes, South Asian
- Bryophyte Ecology
- Butterfly Ecology
- Carson, Rachel
- Chemical Ecology
- Classification Analysis
- Coastal Dune Habitats
- Communities and Ecosystems, Indirect Effects in
- Communities, Top-Down and Bottom-Up Regulation of
- Community Concept, The
- Community Ecology
- Community Genetics
- Community Phenology
- Competition and Coexistence in Animal Communities
- Competition in Plant Communities
- Complexity Theory
- Conservation Biology
- Conservation Genetics
- Coral Reefs
- Darwin, Charles
- De-Glaciation, Ecology of
- Disease Ecology
- Drought as a Disturbance in Forests
- Early Explorers, The
- Earth’s Climate, The
- Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics
- Ecological Dynamics in Fragmented Landscapes
- Ecological Informatics
- Ecology, Microbial (Community)
- Ecosystem Engineers
- Ecosystem Multifunctionality
- Ecosystem Services
- Ecosystem Services, Conservation of
- Elton, Charles
- Endophytes, Fungal
- Energy Flow
- Environments, Extreme
- Ethics, Ecological
- Facilitation and the Organization of Communities
- Fern and Lycophyte Ecology
- Fire Ecology
- Food Webs
- Foraging Behavior, Implications of
- Foraging, Optimal
- Forests, Temperate Coniferous
- Forests, Temperate Deciduous
- Freshwater Invertebrate Ecology
- Genetic Considerations in Plant Ecological Restoration
- Genomics, Ecological
- Geographic Range
- Gleason, Henry
- Greig-Smith, Peter
- Gymnosperm Ecology
- Habitat Selection
- Harper, John L.
- Heavy Metal Tolerance
- Himalaya, Ecology of the
- Host-Parasitoid Interactions
- Human Ecology
- Human Ecology of the Andes
- Hutchinson, G. Evelyn
- Insect Ecology, Terrestrial
- Introductory Sources
- Invasive Species
- Island Biogeography Theory
- Island Biology
- Kin Selection
- Landscape Dynamics
- Landscape Ecology
- Laws, Ecological
- Legume-Rhizobium Symbiosis, The
- Leopold, Aldo
- Lichen Ecology
- Life History
- Literature, Ecology and
- MacArthur, Robert H.
- Mangrove Zone Ecology
- Marine Fisheries Management
- Mathematical Ecology
- Mating Systems
- Maximum Sustainable Yield
- Metabolic Scaling Theory
- Metacommunity Dynamics
- Metapopulations and Spatial Population Processes
- Mutualisms and Symbioses
- Mycorrhizal Ecology
- Natural History Tradition, The
- Networks, Ecological
- Niche Versus Neutral Models of Community Organization
- Nutrient Foraging in Plants
- Ordination Analysis
- Organic Agriculture, Ecology of
- Parental Care, Evolution of
- Patch Dynamics
- Phenotypic Selection
- Philosophy, Ecological
- Phylogenetics and Comparative Methods
- Physiological Ecology of Nutrient Acquisition in Animals
- Physiological Ecology of Photosynthesis
- Physiological Ecology of Water Balance in Terrestrial Anim...
- Plant Disease Epidemiology
- Plant Ecological Responses to Extreme Climatic Events
- Polar Regions
- Pollination Ecology
- Population Dynamics, Density-Dependence and Single-Species
- Population Dynamics, Methods in
- Population Fluctuations and Cycles
- Population Genetics
- Population Viability Analysis
- Populations and Communities, Dynamics of Age- and Stage-St...
- Predation and Community Organization
- Predator-Prey Interactions
- Reductionism Versus Holism
- Religion and Ecology
- Remote Sensing
- Restoration Ecology
- Ricketts, Edward Flanders Robb
- Seed Ecology
- Serpentine Soils
- Shelford, Victor
- Soil Biogeochemistry
- Soil Ecology
- Spatial Pattern Analysis
- Spatial Patterns of Species Biodiversity in Terrestrial En...
- Species Extinctions
- Species Responses to Climate Change
- Species-Area Relationships
- Stability and Ecosystem Resilience, A Below-Ground Perspec...
- Stoichiometry, Ecological
- Stream Ecology
- Systems Ecology
- Tansley, Sir Arthur
- Terrestrial Resource Limitation
- Thermal Ecology of Animals
- Tragedy of the Commons
- Trophic Levels
- Vegetation Classification
- Vegetation Mapping
- Weed Ecology
- Whittaker, Robert H.
- Wildlife Ecology