|The tropics are not all rainforest, although that is by far the most often discussed habitat. Vast areas are also covered by dry forests and savanna. The dry forests in Central America are dominated by Caribbean pine, and even oaks grow in some areas. In general, the Central American dry forests are not as biodiverse as those of South America. Dry forests in South America cover almost 250 million hectares, but they are threatened by logging and agriculture. Many dry forests are considered even more endangered than rainforests, but without the great variety of plants and animals, they do not attract as much attention for conservation.|
An open, dry tropical woodland with larger deciduous trees and smaller evergreen shrubs. Photo courtesy Naomi Woods.
|Broad-leaved trees in these dry woodlands are all deciduous. Most trees do not reach heights over 7.6 meters (25 feet), compared to the trees of the nearby rainforests, which are usually over 45 meters (150 feet) tall. The soils in dry forests, like those of rainforests, are quite poor. Most dry forests grow in well-drained, sandy soils, but others occur in soggy, waterlogged areas, which at first seems to make no sense. Consider, however, that "dry" forest vegetation grows in any soil conditions that are too "extreme" for rainforests -- either too dry or too wet. In fact, some areas that are covered by dry forests would be suitable areas for rainforests, if only the soil conditions were different.|
[climate] [biodiversity] [threats to forests] [deforestation & overcutting] [temperate broadleaf forests] [soil]
view the condensed version of the tropical forest article for faster printing/reading
return to the forest types article