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Name: Amielee
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A


Question:
Why do pine trees not grow south of the equator?



Replies:
Dear Amielee,

The natural distribution of the pines is the northern hemisphere:
http://phylogeny.arizona.edu/tree/eukaryotes/green_plants/embryophytes/conif ers/pinaceae/pinus/pinus.html

However, pines have become introduced into the southern hemisphere through cultivation:
http://www.woodweb.com/~treetalk/Radiata_Pine/wowhome.html

Sincerely,

Anthony R. Brach, Ph.D.


Hi Amielee

Some pine trees do live south of the equator but we (I live in Australia) do not have the huge forests of native conifers that you have in the northern hemisphere.

Even in the northern hemisphere conifers are only found in two forest types:
1. Tiaga
The coniferous forests called (as a group) Tiaga are the most extensive on Earth. Tiaga is found in the high latitudes where it is cold and there is little rain but the ground is not permanently frozen. In the Northern hemisphere this vegetation forms a band that stretches across Canada and Eurasia just south of the arctic Tundra.

The southern hemisphere does not have Tiaga because we do not have much land far enough south (except for Antarctica which is too far south to support Tiaga). In the south we have very little land in higher latitudes.

2. Temperate rainforest
I believe that some temperate rainforests in the northern hemisphere (eg North America) are dominated by conifers (eg. Californian redwood). In Australia we have some forests of this type and some are coniferous but often they are dominated by a tree called the southern beech. Even if they were dominated by conifers (as they are in only some places in the northern hemisphere) this type of vegetation is rare in southern Australia, Africa and South America because it is too dry to support forest of this kind and in Australia and Africa fires also reduce the amount of temperate rainforest that northern hemisphere conifers could thrive in.

In short, there is virtually no land in the southern hemisphere with the environmental conditions that could support coniferous forests - so we don't have them

Cameron Millsom



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