Layers of forests

Layers of forests

The layers of different types of forests may vary.



layeredness, rainforest, monsoon forest, oak forest, beech forest, coniferous forest, forest, jungle, canopy layer, shrub layer, herbaceous layer, tree, perennial, wood production, flora, ecosystem, woody, biomes, shade-tolerant, competition, liana, orchid, epiphytic, evergreen, deciduous, precipitation, plant, biology

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Tropical rainforest

Tropical deciduous forest (monsoon forest)

Temperate oak forest

Temperate beech forest

Temperate coniferous forest

Biomes (graph)

Biomes (flora)



The tropical rainforest:

Tropical rainforests receive between 2,000 and 5,000 mm of rain and are formed in the tropical zone’s wettest regions, where there are no seasons. These are evergreen forests with a large variety of species. The soil is nutrient-poor, because nutrients are absorbed by the rich vegetation, and washed away by precipitation. Due to the three layers: emerging, canopy and understory, there emerges a strong competition for light. The shrub and the herbaceous layers receive little light, due to the three canopy layers. Thus, they are made up of shade tolerant plants.

The monsoon forest:

Monsoon forests occur beside rainforests in the regions of the tropical zone. Annually, these areas receive less than 2,000 mm of precipitation and feature a short dry season. The development of deciduous trees results from the two seasons. The canopy of the monsoon forest is more penetrable than that of the tropical rainforest, so here the shrub and herbaceous layers are more developed.

The oak forest:

Temperate deciduous forests occur in the areas of the temperate zone, which receive 500 mm of annual precipitation. One important type of temperate deciduous forest is the oak forest. Some oak forests have one canopy layer. However, if besides the oak trees there are also some other species, the latter will form a lower layer of the canopy. The oak forest canopy is relatively loose, allowing a great deal of light to pass through, so the shrub and herbaceous layers are fairly developed.

The beech forest:

Beech forests are typical of the colder areas of the temperate zone, such as 600-800 metre high mountainous regions. The canopy of these forests rises to approximately 30 metres; it is dense, allowing little light to go through. As there is a strong competition for light, trees are tall, pushing their way vertically. The shrub and herbaceous layers are sparse and consist mainly of shade-tolerant plants and spring bulbous plants that flower before the leaves appear.

The coniferous forest:

This is a type of evergreen forest typical of the cool-temperate zone. Here trees grow to a height of 30-40 m and the canopy layer is impenetrable, allowing little light to pass through. The soil has a low nutrient content. This is due to the cold weather and to the fact that needles have high wax and resin content, which slows down the decomposition caused by bacteria and fungi and the formation of humus. As a result of the shading and of the nutrient-poor soil, the shrub and herbaceous layer are fairly scarce.


In both hemispheres of our planet the hot, moderate and cold zones can be clearly distinguished. The hot zone is located around the Equator and lies between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The temperate zone is located between the tropics and the polar circles. Here we can distinguish between the warm, temperate and cool temperate zones. The cold zone is located in the polar regions.

With the increase of the annual average rainfall in the hot and temperate zones, deserts are replaced by grasslands and forests. As we move towards a colder climate, grassy and forested areas have a lower rainfall. This happens because evaporation is lower in cold weather and therefore plants can also survive, even if they receive little rainfall.

The hot zone can receive up to 5,000 mm of precipitation. With the decrease of precipitation, tropical rainforests give way to monsoon forests, which are then followed by wooded savannah and savannah grassland. Deserts are formed in areas which receive less than 200 mm of rainfall.

Temperate rainforests occur in the wettest areas of the temperate zone. In the warm-temperate zone, temperate rainforests are replaced by evergreen sub-tropical forests (hard-leaved and laurel forests) due to less rainfall here. As the temperate zone records less precipitation, deciduous forests and desert grasslands are very common here. Desert grasslands are called steppes in Eurasia, pampas in South America and prairies in North America. Deserts occur in the driest areas of the temperate zone.

The forests of the cold temperate zone are taiga forests, which constitute our planet’s largest coniferous forests.

Tundra is located in the cold zone. In the tundra, the vegetation is composed of dwarf shrubs, mosses and lichens. Away from the Arctic Circle, the Arctic areas are permanently covered with snow, therefore vascular plants cannot survive here.

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