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    Welcome to the Forest Communities section of the Virtual Walk in the Forest Tour! Here we will explore different boreal forest communities to find out what an upland forest can look like. Search each example community to find clues within the ecosystem that tell us we are in a forest environment. This community is an Aspen-Spruce mixed-wood forest.

    What does the field journal tell you about this environment? The field journal shows us that the water table here is very low, and it does not prevent the roots of the plants from reaching deeper into the soil. The soil is very rich in organic matter, known as a loam soil. The soil has medium pore space (space between soil particles), which allows space for water and oxygen. These characteristics allow the different trees here to grow very tall and create a full canopy or tree-top layer. This helps to tell us this mixed-wood is an upland forest community, and not a wetland or wildfire site.

    How would predators use the forest differently than prey? Here we can see some wildlife camera photos of Coyotes (*Canis latrans*). Many of their prey species are found in forest systems. Photo Credits: Caroline Franklin

    This forest has two kinds of tree of about the same amount, and for this reason we can call it a mixedwood forest. The understory plants are smaller species that are adapted to living in the shade. Species Shown: (1) White spruce (or *Picea glauca*), (2) Bunchberry (or *Cornus canadensis*), (3) Knight’s plume moss (or *Ptilium crista-castrensis*), (4) Palmate-leaved coltsfoot (or *Petasites palmatus*). Where do you find these species in this environment?”

    Aspen Forest Pine Forest

    Mixed-wood forest – with Rielle Massey-Leclerc This is an aspen and spruce mixedwood forest. And although it also has aspen trees, we can see that it is very different than the aspen-dominated forest. This forest is older, and the trees here are very tall, forming a dense canopy above. Again, the tall trees here are a good indication that the roots of these trees can grow deep into the soil and receive enough oxygen. If you look on the ground, you will notice that there is a lot of leaf litter, which is contributing to the nutrients in the soil as they break down. You will also notice some deadfall, which is adding nutrients through decomposition. There is not a very big understory here, and it is mostly made up of smaller plants, which means that the soil is retaining a lot of these nutrients since there are fewer plants to use them up. When you look to the ground level, you will see that the tree canopy is shading most of the ground, and only small patches of sunlight are coming through. The species you will see here prefer shady environments like bunchberry and palmate coltsfoot. Because the shade is helping the ground retain moisture, you will also notice a forest moss species called knight's plume.