Saturday, March 21, 2015

Four Ecological Zones in the Tropics

by Antonio C. Antonio
March 20, 2015

A forest is a forest, period.  Most people cannot distinguish forest types in the ecological zones of the tropics.  This short article will attempt to classify tropical forests…
  1. TROPICAL RAIN FOREST – A tropical rain forest is and ecosystem type found in the latitudes of 28 degrees north or south of the equator; in the equatorial zone between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn where most forest areas could be found.  The tropical rain forest is a forest of tall trees in a region of usually year-round warm climate with an average rainfall of 100 inches per year.  An average of 50 to 260 inches of rainfall is expected every year.  This ecosystem experiences high average temperatures… higher than 34 degrees Celsius or below 20 degrees Celsius.  Rainforests now cover only 6 percent of the earth’s land surface where it is estimated that more than half of the world’s plant and animal species live.  The biggest life-support function of the tropical rainforest is the production of 40 percent of the earth’s oxygen.
  2. TROPICAL MOIST FOREST – Tropical moist forests or tropical moist deciduous forests receive unusually high overall rainfall with a warm summer, a wet season and a cooler winter dry season.  This type of forest could be found in parts of South America, in Central America, in the Caribbean, in coastal West Africa, in parts of the Indian subcontinent, the Indochina region, and across Southeast Asia.  In character, a tropical moist forest can be compared with the tropical rain forest.
  3. TROPICAL DRY FOREST – A tropical dry forest typically experiences an annual hard dry season.  Although the average rainfall is sufficient to promote the growth of trees, these tree and plant species have developed the capability to withstand low levels of moisture and precipitation.  The tree species found in tropical dry forests are also deciduous and, like the trees found in tropical moist forest, drop their leaves on the driest period of the year to compensate for and reduce the need of trees for water.  Some tropical dry forests, mostly in Mexico and Central America, have been converted to grazing areas where exotic grasses are grown to support the cattle raising.
  4.  TROPICAL MOUNTAIN FOREST – Tropical mountain forests are found in the upper boundary of the rain forest.  They usually consist of evergreen species and characterized by the presence of treelike ferns and some conifers found in mountains at more than 800-meter elevation or above sea level.  Tropical mountain forests are commonly called cloud forests.

Upland resources management, it makes perfect sense to also study and understand the different types of tropical forests in the four ecological zones in the tropics.

Just my little thoughts…

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