About 420 million years ago, throughout the Silurian Period, ancient plants and arthropods started to occupy the land. End the countless years that followed, these land colonizers developed and adjusted to their brand-new habitat. The first forests were overcame by gigantic horsetails, club mosses, and ferns the stood approximately 40 feet tall.

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

Today, forests occupy around one-third that Earth"s soil area, account for over two-thirds that the sheet area of land plants, and also contain about 70% that carbon current in living things. They have been hosted in reverence in folklore and worshipped in ancient religions. However, forests are becoming major casualties of civilization as human populations have increased end the past several thousand years, pass deforestation, pollution, and industrial consumption problems come this vital biome.

Present-day woodland biomes, organic communities that are conquered by trees and also other woody vegetation (Spurr and Barnes 1980), can be classified according to numerous characteristics, v seasonality gift the many widely used. Distinct forest species also take place within each of these wide groups.

There space three significant types that forests, classed according to latitude:

Tropical forest

Tropical forests are defined by the greatest diversity that species. They take place near the equator, within the area bounded through latitudes 23.5 degrees N and also 23.5 degrees S. Among the major characteristics of tropical forests is their distinctive seasonality: winter is absent, and also only two periods are present (rainy and also dry). The size of daylight is 12 hours and also varies little.


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

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

Further subdivisions that this team are identified by seasonal circulation of rainfall:

evergreen rainforest: no dry season. Seasonal rainforest: quick dry duration in a very wet tropical region (the woodland exhibits identify seasonal alters as tree undergo developmental changes simultaneously, however the general character that vegetation remains the exact same as in evergreen rainforests). Semievergreen forest: longer dry season (the top tree story is composed of deciduous trees, while the reduced story is tho evergreen). Moist/dry deciduous forest (monsoon): the size of the dried season increases further as rainfall decreases (all trees space deciduous).

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

Temperate forest

Temperate woodlands occur in east North America, northeastern Asia, and also western and main Europe. Well-defined seasons with a distinctive winter characterize this woodland biome. Moderate climate and a growing season that 140-200 days throughout 4-6 frost-free months distinguish temperate forests.


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

Temperature different from -30° C to 30° C. Precipitation (75-150 cm) is distributed evenly throughout the year. Soil is fertile, enriched through decaying litter. Canopy is moderately thick and permits light to penetrate, causing well-developed and also richly diversified understory vegetation and also stratification the animals. Flora is identified by 3-4 tree varieties per square kilometer. Tree are identified by vast leaves that are shed annually and include such types 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, timber wolf, fox, and also black bear.

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

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

Only scattered remnants of initial temperate woodlands remain.

Boreal woodland (taiga)


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

Boreal forests, or taiga, represent the largest terrestial biome. Occuring between 50 and also 60 degrees north latitudes, boreal woodlands can be discovered in the broad belt of Eurasia and North America: two-thirds in Siberia through the remainder in Scandinavia, Alaska, and Canada. Seasons are separated into short, moist, and moderately warm summers and also long, cold, and dry winters. The size of the farming season in boreal forests is 130 days.

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

Current extensive logging in boreal forests may soon cause their disappearance.


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

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The initial biomes pages were produced in loss 1996 through the Biomes Group, biology 1B class, section 115, at UC sdrta.net; every were reformatted, v many brand-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 sdrta.net website overhaul. Unless noted, content on this pages have actually not been updated.