Trees and Forest Notes

1. Identify reasons why trees and forests are valued

            Forests serve as habitat for a variety of living things
            Human needs – recreation, raw materials, life supporting environment

Habitat – an environment where something lives
Ecosystem – a living community that depends on each member and it’s surrounding environment (cooperating together to survive)

Living things in the forest

  • Producers – living things that use energy from the sun to produce their food.
  • Consumers  - living things that eat the producers
      • Three types of consumers – herbivores, carnivors and omnivores
  • Decomposers – living things which feed off dead plants and animals
      • They reduce the remains to nutrients and minerals for the soil
        • Examples – mushrooms  (fungi) and bacteria

Non-living things in the forest – water, rocks, sunlight, air, soil and chemicals.

Food Chain

2. Describe kinds of plants and animals found living on, under and among trees; and identify how trees affect and are affected by those living things.

forest layers

  • Forest Layers
    • Upper canopy: top layer of the forest
      • Captures more than 90% of the sunlight
      • Where most of the photosynthesis occurs
      • A Lot of flying animals can be found here.
        • Humming bird, owl, and insects(butterfly, caterpillars).
    • Understory: Many small trees, larger bushes and shrubs.
        • Provides shelter for many forest animals
    • Shrubbery layer: Home to many forest wildflowers, ferns, deer skunks and rabbits
        • These animals find their food on this level.
    • Forest Floor: Dark and damp.  Only plants that can live with very little light grow here.
        • Fungi decompose dead plant material here
        • Fungi are not green because they don’t have chlorophyll and can not produce food through photosynthesis.
        • Fungi eat dead plant material.  Mushrooms, conks and lichens are examples of fungi.
        • Decomposers such as worms, bacteria, millipedes, and centipedes are examples of decomposers. 
        • Inhabitants of the forest floor are tods, mushrooms, and insects.
  1. Describe the role of trees in nutrient cycles and in the production of oxygen.
  2. nutrients

Nutrient Cycle

  1. Decomposers break down the dead matter from trees or animals break down plant leaves
  2. Nutrients are released back into the soil
  3. Roots of trees absorb the nutrients
  4. Nutrients travel up the trunk of the tree and are used as energy for growth.
  5. Consumers eat the leaves of trees or the dead leaves fall back to the ground

Water Cycle

  1. Trees take in water through their roots
  2. Water is transported up through the trunk to the leaves
  3. Leaf endings release water vapor (transpiration)
  4. Water which is transpired by plants enters the atmosphere and cools (forming clouds)
  5. Water also enters the atmosphere by the process of evaporation.
  6. Dirt particles and various chemicals are left behind as vapor rises
  7. Cooling of water vapor (condensation) forms precipitation
  8. Precipitation falls to Earth as rain, sleet, snow or hail.
  9. Precipitation lands on the ground or remains on the surface and collects in streams, rivers, and lakes.
  10. Plants use water as part of the process of photosynthesis.
  11. The cycle repeats over and over.

Photosynthesis; The process by which leaves make food for the plant.

    • Leaves make food from water and carbon dioxide
    • Sunlight captured by chlorophyll traps light energy.  Chlorophyll is what makes the leaves green.
    • Chlorophyll molecules use light energy to change carbon dioxide and water into oxygen, sugars, and starches.
    • Leaves release the oxygen they don’t need into the air and keep the sugar for food
    • Plants give off almost all the free oxygen in the atmosphere.
    • Photosynthesis Website
    • Wonderville - Choose Photosynthesis


4. Distinguish trees from other plants, and characteristics that distinguish deciduous from coniferous trees.
Parts of a treetree partsbarktreecookiewhat's a tree
D2L - Parts of a Tree

  • Roots 
      • Absorb water and nutrients from soil
      • Store sugar and anchor the tree in the ground
  • Trunk/stem
      • Supports the grown and gives the tree its shape and strength
      • Consists of a network of tubes that run between the roots and leaves
        • This is how nutrients from the soil reach the leaves
  • Crown
        • Leaves and branches at the top of the tree
  • Bark    Outer bark and Inner Bark
      • Outer Bark protects the tree from insects extreme temperature, desease and storms
      • Inner barks (phloem):  Caries sugar and nutrients (sap) from the leaves to the rest of the tree.
  • Cambium – Between the outer bark and the inner bark
      • A very thin layer of growing tissue that produces new cellsxcylem, phloem or more cambium.
  • Xylem or sapwood has a network of thick walled cells that bring water and nutrients up from the roots to the leaves and other parts of the tree.
  • Heartwood:  As the tree grows, Xylem cells die to form the heartwood.
      • The heartwood supports the tree to give it its strength. 

Types of Trees:  Coniferous or Deciduous
            Deciduous trees shed their leaves before the cold or dry season.
            Coniferous trees have needle-shaped leaves.
                        Needles are green all year long
                        Cone bearing trees
            Tamarack is both coniferous and deciduous

  1. Leaf Classification:
    1. Leaf shapes, leaf arrangements, branching patterns and the overall form of a tree.

Diagram of the Leaf

Leaf Arrangements

Simple leaf shape – one leaf on each petiole.
Compound leaf shape – more than one blade on each petiole.
Double compound shape – several blades attached to several petioles.

Leaves can be classified by their arrangement on a twig
            Opposite, alternate, whorle and basal.

Leaf Shapes - What does the general shape of the leaf look like?

Leaf Margins - What do the edges of the leaf look like? Smooth, wavy, course tooth, fine tooth.

Needle arrangements
 bundles of 2, an 5, singly on a twig, scale like and clusters of more than 5.

Bark can be smooth or rough.
Most trees bark change color and thickens as the tree ages.
            Bark can be reddish, brown, grey or white.
            Patterns – scaly patches, horizontal, vertical, horizontal and wavy, and vertical and scaly.

Tree shapes
            Triangle or cone shape, oval shape, circle shape, a spreading sheape or a rectangular shape.

Branching patterns
            Whorled, opposite, alternate, or spiral arrangement.

Branches Patterns 2 can also be arranged in relation to the trunk
            Excurrent – branches go all the way up the trunk
            Decurrant – trunk is split to form two or thre main branches
            Columnar – branches all cluster at the top of the trunk.
Tree shape may be influenced b being in lots of wind, not a lot of water, on a slope, etc.

  1. Interpret the growth of a young tree, examine each year’s growth, locate scars that separate old and new growth.
    1. Tree rings (annual rings)
      • Close tree rings – poor growing conditions
      • Far tree rings – good growing conditions.
    1. Trees form new wood in the spring and summer
      • Springwood is lighter than summerwood
    1. Growth of rings is affected by
      • Weather, amound of growing space, soil condition, insect attacks, fire.
    1. Know how to read the tree rings to tell the history of the tree.
    2. Wonderville - the Tree Game


.tree rings
Reading Tree Rings


5. Characteristics of at least 4 trees found in the local environment. 2 Deciduous and 2 Coniferous trees.
            Spruce, birch, poplar, and pine, cultivated seacies such as elm and crab apple.

Paste notes from book here with pictures of the trees.

8. Identify human uses of forests, and compare modern and historical pattterns of use.

Photocopy and paste the last bit of writing for a reading activity.

9 Identify human actions that enhance or threaten the existence of forests.

Harvesting a Tree - D2L on Forest Harvesting

10. Identify an issue regarding forest use, identify different perspectives on that issue, and identify actions that might be taken.