Forest Atlas Of The United States

What Else Lives in the Forest?

Forests provide habitat for a wide variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and even fish. Every organism plays an important role in the ecological web that is the forest. Different types of forests support different numbers and types of animals. Each animal species is uniquely adapted to its environment through its morphology, physiology, and behavior.

The space and function or role that an animal occupies in an ecological system is called its “ecological niche.” Some animals occupy a wide niche and are called “habitat generalists.” These species are able to use many different forest types and stages of growth to meet their needs; examples include white tailed deer, black bear, raccoon, northern mockingbird, and American robin. Omnivores – species that eat both plants and animals – are usually habitat generalists and often have abundant populations; humans could be considered as habitat generalists. Other animals occupy narrow niches and are called “habitat specialists.” These species require very specific forest types and stages of growth. Examples of habitat specialists include martin, Kirtland’s warbler, wood thrush, red-cockaded woodpecker, and pygmy salamander. Habitat specialists often have small populations that may be threatened or endangered.

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