Introduction to Algonquin Park Habitats - Coniferous Forest
Coniferous Forest

Coniferious Forest  
When the glaciers melted about 11 000 years ago, meltwaters formed large rivers that flowed from the higher elevations. These rivers deposited sand and gravel primarily on the east side of Algonquin Park. These sandy soils, in combination with the east side's lower elevation and warmer temperatures, resulted in conditions suitable for the growth of vast areas of coniferous forest. Sugar Maple, the dominant tree species in the western portions of Algonquin Park, is poorly adapted to the quick-drying, sandy soils found on the east side of the Park. The White Pine, a species tolerant of drier soils, characterized by its tall straight trunk, rutted bark, and soft needles that are in bundles of five, and its cousin the Red Pine, with pink flaky bark, are the most dominant tree species on the Park's east side. If one were to walk through a typical coniferous forests like those on Algonquin's east side or along the Bat Lake Trail along the Highway 60 Corridor, they might encounter a variety of plant species characteristic of the coniferous forest. Plants on the forest floor include Starflower, Fringed Polygala, Bluebead Lily, Pink Ladyslipper, and Bunchberry, a common sight to nearly all who have explored the coniferous forest. In June, this low-lying plant is readily found covering the forest floor. It is easily identified in by its white floral head, and later in the summer by its bunch of red berries, giving it its name. The coniferous forest is home to many different animals such as the Black Bear, which can be found feeding on raspberries, blueberries and the acorns of the Red Oak. If you were to listen carefully you might also hear the warbling song of the Red Crossbill. The Red Crossbill, has a crossed bill allowing it to pry open and extract seeds from the cones of the White Pine. Another bird species dependent upon the pine forest is the Pine Warbler. This small, greenish-yellow bird does not search for seeds like the Red Crossbill, rather it hunts insect. Its elongated bill and strong feet help it while it pushes aside conifer needles in search of insects. The coniferous forest is an intriguing place for many visitors to Algonquin Park. If you have never explored the coniferous forest, one of the five major habitats in Algonquin Park, click on the link below.

Take a 360° tour of an Algonquin coniferous forest


Learn more about Algonquin's habitats download readings and worksheets from the Educator Resources section of the web site, or you may also learn more through the following publications:

Suggested Reading
Educators: Learn more about Algonquin’s habitats, download readings and worksheets from the Educator Resources section of the Web Site, or you may also learn more through the following publications:

Trees of Algonquin Provincial Park
Of all the living things that inhabit Algonquin Provincial Park, none are more important than the trees. Trees are by far the largest living things in the Park and they almost completely blanket the landscape. With a little practice you can quickly become adept at identifying all of Algonquin's trees, and this will open the door to understanding the fascinating world of Algonquin Provincial Park.

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Berm Lake Trail Guide
Algonquin Pine Forest Ecology

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Birds of Algonquin Provincial Park
Many visitors to Algonquin Park are unaware that it offers a unique opportunity for seeing and hearing the birds of Ontario. This book will introduce you to the main habitats of the Park and to many of the common species, 77 in all. Through colour photographs and short accounts we hope to encourage you to discover and enjoy them for yourself.

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Wildflowers of Algonquin Provincial Park
Anyone who visits Algonquin Park during the spring and summer will see wildflowers. The Park has many different habitats within its borders and each area has its own distinct wildflowers. This book has over 55 colour photographs of the most common wildflowers in the Park, and will give you an idea of the incredible richness and beauty of the plant world and how important plants are to the ecology of Algonquin Park.

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Mammals of Algonquin Provincial Park
Fifty-three species of mammals have been found in Algonquin Provincial Park. This book explains the life history of these mammals. The many illustrations help to make it easier to identify them, and the book also contains a useful reference chart for distinguishing tracks and scats.

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