Q:

What is a food chain in a boreal forest?

A:

In a boreal forest, producers like mosses, lichens and shrubs provide food for songbirds and snowshoe hares, which are prey for raptors, lynx and wolves. The exact links of the food chain depend on the location of the forest.

Producers are the first step of any food chain. In the boreal forest, producers comprise such shrubs and trees as willow, alder, ash, blueberry and cranberry. There is also an abundance of lichens and mosses, and some boreal forests are home to carnivorous flora like the pitcher plant. Many boreal plants have special adaptations that allow them to live in their habitat, given the acidic soils and absence of soil bacteria in the boreal forest.

Primary consumers of the boreal forest include snowshoe hares, lemmings, voles, songbirds and large herbivores, such as elk and moose. These animals feed on shrubs and mosses, and boreal forest berries are an attractive food source to songbirds, such as waxwings.

Predators include raptors, such as owls, goshawks and gyrfalcons, that prey on snowshoe hares and rodents. Species of northern owls, such as snowy and great grey owls, are often diurnal. Lynx and foxes also prey on rodents and hares. Wolf packs hunt large herbivores, and they sometimes prey on smaller predators.


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