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What are the vegetation characteristics in Temperate Woodland Biomes?

Temperate deciduous woodland biome is characterized by their seasonal colour change which marks the onset of the autumnal leaf fall. The biome occupies three main formations within the 'mid-latitudes' (40-60 degrees north and south), it isn't completely absent from the southern hemisphere as restricted ecosystems are formed within Australia, New Zealand's South Island and southern Chile. These regions have a long, warm growing season of over 120 days and have at least five months frost-free, extreme weather conditions are rare. 

In temperate deciduous woodland biomes trees shed their leaves in the winter in response to the fall in temperature and an anticipated need to conserve water. Undisturbed forest nowadays is rare but the forests still tend to show good diversity with over ten different species of trees per hectare. The majority of these tree species belong to the broadleaf deciduous group and have large crowns yet there may be the occasional stand of an evergreen conifer (e.g. hemlock, spruce, fir). In certain areas, individual species can dominate such as beech, elm or oak. The vegetation cover in forests depends largely on the soil type as acidic soils give rise to species such as Birch whilst alkaline soils support Box and Maple. Willow and Alder dominate in wetter areas that are near to streams and pond whilst Oak thrives in most habitats as extremely tolerant. Ground cover and the under storey layer of the woodland are dominated by shrubs, bushes and wildflowers. 

The vegetation in this biome has adapted to cold winters in a variety of ways. Trees have developed thick bark that helps to insulated against low temperatures and wind chill, winter dormancy is another adaptation that reduces transpiration and therefore moisture uptake when the soil is frozen. Leaf fall helps to prevent frostbite damage, reduces water loss and reduces the likelihood of branches being broken under the weight of snow. Thin broad leaves maximise sunlight capture and photosynthesis whilst their deep, wide spreading roots maximises soil moisture capture.

Dead wood plays a major role in these habitats as half of all woodland fauna depends on it. They provide a microhabitat for fungi and lichen, food and shelter for invertebrates and mosses. Many woodland birds nest within dead trees. 

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