Project WILD Teacher Resource Guide
Forests have probably covered Georgias mountains for the last 2 million years. Trees provided organic material for soil production and root systems to stabilize that soil. Montane forests offer one of many examples of plants stabilizing and gradually altering their environment.
Variations in elevation, slope and aspect create changing temperature and moisture patterns that produce many distinct microclimates in mountainous regions. These microclimates dramatically increase habitat diversity, allowing for specialized plants and animals to become established in often quite local areas.
Typically rainfall increases in mountainous areas as air masses cool and release moisture as they rise and pass over mountains. For this reason you will often see clouds that seem perched on mountaintops, while the valleys are sunny.
As elevation increases the average temperature decreases. For every 6,000 feet of elevation gained, the climate changes as if one moved 1,000 miles north. A state like Georgia gains a much broader diversity of plants and animals because of the mountains, which house species that would otherwise live far to our north.
Georgias mountains can be divided into 3 distinct regions based on geologic history. These regions are the Cumberland Plateau of northwest Georgia, the Ridge and Valley province of north-central Georgia and the Blue Ridge province of northeast Georgia.
Mountain Sites to Visit:
Smithgall-Woods Conservation Area in Helen, GA - (706) 878-3087
Elachee Nature Center in Gainesville, GA - (770)-535-1975
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