Plants, Animals and Other Biology
Olympicbiodiversity
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Life Zones
(communities and associations)
Alpine
Subalpine
Montane
Lowland forest
Rain forest
Intertidal
Ecological Features
Habitat
Eco-services
Interdependencies
Forest Biomass
Recyclers
Species Lists
Wildlife
Plants
Fungi
Lichens

Other Lists
Endemics
Exotics
Bio-indicators
Absent Mammals

Olympic's Layers
Olympic National Park's biological landscape can be divided into a number of distinct layers (see life zones above), each of which can be further divided into smaller communities. These layers of communities are complex associations of plants, animals, fungi, lichens, microflora, microfauna and bacteria -- each part dependent on roles performed by others within their community.

Alongside the moist Pacific Ocean, the rain forest layer depends on long rainy winters. While higher up, montane forests prefer snowy winters and cloud-moisturizing summers. In the topmost layer of west side forests deep snows and moist summers grow miniaturized forests of mountain hemlock. High in the northeastern Olympic Mountains, subalpine firs shed the deep winter snows and survive dry summer heat. Trees here are often stunted and shrubby from blasting winter winds and many months of snow pack. Alpine plants, snow, rock and ice dominate the tallest peaks.

Migrating Forests

Forest boundaries are not static. Over the years forests migrate up and down the mountain sides with the changing climate. Forests also move across the landscape reproducing in open patches created by fires and avalanches. Not only do forest zones change with vertical elevation, but they also transition horizontally from north- to south-facing slopes. Because north-facing slopes receive less sunlight, those forests retain much more moisture and stay cooler.


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