|There are many obvious differences between these main types of forests, but there are more subtle differences between forests of the same type. Two forests at the same latitude and elevation can both be classified as broadleaf but consist of many different plants and animals. Some species have managed to spread through forests on several different continents. Some closely related plants are found in forests separated by thousands of miles of ocean.|
Every region has a specific type of "climax"
forest, depending on the temperatures, moisture levels, and soil types. The climax forest is the community of plants that will eventually
grow and remain dominant in an area. When some trees that can only grow in direct sunlight reach their full height, they shade out all the
new seedlings underneath them. Seedlings of shade-tolerant trees are then the only ones that can grow, and they eventually come to
dominate the area. When a forest is burned or cut down, grasses are the first plants to return, then the area
is taken over by shrubs and small trees until the climax forest grows again, and remains until the area is disturbed again.
A cedar/hemlock climax forest. In disturbed areas, trees including birches, aspens, Douglas-fir, or Ponderosa pine could be found, depending on the climate and precipitation levels in the specific habitat. Photo by Maya Walters.
[boreal forests] [temperate forests] [tropical forests]
[forest walk] [diagrams]
[succession] [climate] [water] [soil] [plants]
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