About 420 million year ago, during the Silurian Period, old plants and also arthropods started to occupy the land. Over the millions of years the followed, this land colonizers occurred and adapted to their new habitat. The an initial forests were overcame by huge horsetails, society mosses, and ferns that stood approximately 40 feet tall.

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Life top top Earth ongoing to evolve, and also in the so late Paleozoic, gymnosperms appeared. By the Triassic period (245-208 mya), gymnosperms dominated the Earth"s forests. In the Cretaceous period (144-65m mya), the very first flowering tree (angiosperms) appeared. Lock evolved along with insects, birds, and mammals and radiated rapidly, dominating the see by the end of the Period. The landscape readjusted again throughout the Pleistocene Ice eras — the surface ar of the earth that had actually been overcame by tropical woodlands for millions of years changed, and temperate forests spread in the north Hemisphere.

Today, forests occupy roughly one-third of Earth"s soil area, account for over two-thirds of the leaf area of soil plants, and also contain around 70% the carbon current in life things. They have actually been held in reverence in folklore and also worshipped in old religions. However, forests are becoming significant casualties of people as person populations have actually increased over the past several thousands years, happen deforestation, pollution, and also industrial consumption problems come this vital biome.

Present-day forest biomes, biological communities the are conquered by trees and also other woody vegetation (Spurr and Barnes 1980), deserve to be classified follow to many characteristics, v seasonality gift the many widely used. Unique forest species also happen within every of these broad groups.

There room three major types the forests, classed follow to latitude:

Tropical forest

Tropical forests are identified by the best diversity the species. They happen near the equator, in ~ the area bounded by latitudes 23.5 degrees N and 23.5 levels S. Among the major characteristics the tropical forests is their distinctive seasonality: winter is absent, and only two periods are current (rainy and also dry). The length of daylight is 12 hours and varies little.


From left: Olympic Peninsula rain forest, Washington; Patria River, Costa Rica; Ranomafana national Park, Madagascar; Hawaiian forest.

Temperature is on mean 20-25° C and varies tiny throughout the year: the typical temperatures the the three warmest and also three coldest months perform not differ by more than 5 degrees. Precipitation is evenly spread throughout the year, with yearly rainfall exceeding 200 cm. Floor is nutrient-poor and also acidic. Decomposition is rapid and also soils are subject to hefty leaching. Canopy in tropical woodlands is multilayered and continuous, allowing small light penetration. Flora is highly diverse: one square kilometer may contain as numerous as 100 various tree species. Trees room 25-35 m tall, through buttressed trunks and also shallow roots, mostly evergreen, with large dark eco-friendly leaves. Plants such as orchids, bromeliads, vines (lianas), ferns, mosses, and also palms are current in dry forests. Fauna include countless birds, bats, little mammals, and also insects.

Further subdivisions of this group are determined by seasonal circulation of rainfall:

evergreen rainforest: no dried season. Seasonal rainforest: brief dry duration in a very wet tropical region (the forest exhibits definite seasonal transforms as trees undergo developmental alters simultaneously, yet the basic character that vegetation continues to be the same as in evergreen rainforests). Semievergreen forest: much longer dry season (the top tree story is composed of deciduous trees, if the lower story is tho evergreen). Moist/dry deciduous woodland (monsoon): the size of the dry season increases additional as rainfall reduce (all trees are deciduous).

More 보다 one half of tropical woodlands have currently been destroyed.

Temperate forest

Temperate woodlands occur in eastern North America, northeastern Asia, and also western and main Europe. Well-defined seasons with a unique winter characterize this forest biome. Middle climate and a cultivation season that 140-200 days throughout 4-6 frost-free months identify temperate forests.


From left: Wisconsin woods; a forest along California"s north coast; the forested hills that the Adirondacks, new York.

Temperature varies from -30° C to 30° C. Precipitation (75-150 cm) is distributed evenly throughout the year. Soil is fertile, enriched v decaying litter. Canopy is moderately dense and permits light to penetrate, causing well-developed and also richly diversified understory vegetation and also stratification of animals. Flora is defined by 3-4 tree types per square kilometer. Tree are identified by vast leaves the are shed annually and include such varieties as oak, hickory, beech, hemlock, maple, basswood, cottonwood, elm, willow, and spring-flowering herbs. Fauna is represented by squirrels, rabbits, skunks, birds, deer, mountain lion, bobcat, lumber wolf, fox, and black bear.

Further subdivisions the this group are established by seasonal circulation of rainfall:

moist conifer and also evergreen broad-leaved forests: wet winters and dry summers (rainfall is focused in the winter months and also winters are relatively mild). Dried conifer forests: dominate higher elevation zones; short precipitation. Mediterranean forests: precipitation is focused in winter, much less than 100 centimeter per year. Warm coniferous: gentle winters, high yearly precipitation (greater 보다 200 cm). Temperate broad-leaved rainforests: mild, frost-free winters, high precipitation (more than 150 cm) evenly spread throughout the year.

Only scattered remnants of original temperate forests remain.

Boreal woodland (taiga)


From left: taiga in Jasper nationwide Park, Alberta, Canada; woodland west that Stockholm, Sweden.

Boreal forests, or taiga, stand for the biggest terrestial biome. Occuring between 50 and 60 degrees north latitudes, boreal woodlands can be discovered in the vast belt of Eurasia and also North America: two-thirds in Siberia v the remainder in Scandinavia, Alaska, and also Canada. Periods are separated into short, moist, and moderately heat summers and also long, cold, and also dry winters. The length of the farming season in boreal forests is 130 days.

temperatures are an extremely low. Precipitation is mainly in the form of snow, 40-100 cm annually. Floor is thin, nutrient-poor, and acidic. Canopy permits short light penetration, and also as a result, understory is limited. Flora consist greatly of cold-tolerant evergreen conifers with needle-like leaves, such together pine, fir, and also spruce. Fauna incorporate woodpeckers, hawks, moose, bear, weasel, lynx, fox, wolf, deer, hares, chipmunks, shrews, and bats.

Current substantial logging in boreal woodlands may soon cause their disappearance.


Top photo through Sherry Ballard © 2004 California Academy of Sciences. Tropical forest photos, indigenous left: Albert P. Bekker © 2000 California Academy the Sciences; Lloyd Gomez © 2004 California Academy of Sciences; Gerald and Buff Corsi © 2000 California Academy that Sciences; Carl Austin Rietz © 2004 California Academy of Sciences. Temperate forest photos, native left: Sherry Ballard © 2004 California Academy that Sciences; Mona Bourell © 1999 California Academy that Sciences; David K. Smith, jamesmerse.com. Boreal forest photos, native left: Reuel R. Sutton © 2006 California Academy the Sciences; David K. Smith, jamesmerse.com.

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The initial biomes pages were produced in loss 1996 by the Biomes Group, biology 1B class, section 115, at UC jamesmerse.com; all were reformatted, v many new photos added, in March, 2007. Coral reef photograph by Marguerite Gregory © 2004 California Academy the Sciences. The pages to be re-designed in 2019 as part of a basic jamesmerse.com website overhaul. Unless noted, contents on this pages have actually not to be updated.