Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests

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General distribution of tropical moist forests 800px-tropical wet forests.png
General distribution of tropical moist forests

Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests (TSMF), also known as tropical moist forests, are a tropical and subtropical forest habitat type defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. [1] The habitat type is sometimes known as jungle.

Forest dense collection of trees covering a relatively large area

A forest is a large area dominated by trees. Hundreds of more precise definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing and ecological function. According to the widely used Food and Agriculture Organization definition, forests covered 4 billion hectares (9.9×109 acres) (15 million square miles) or approximately 30 percent of the world's land area in 2006.

World Wide Fund for Nature international non-governmental organization

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961, working in the field of the wilderness preservation, and the reduction of human impact on the environment. It was formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States.



Rainforest lining a river bank, Cameroon Fluss Dja Somalomo.JPG
Rainforest lining a river bank, Cameroon

TSMF are generally found in large, discontinuous patches centered on the equatorial belt and between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, TSMF are characterized by low variability in annual temperature and high levels of rainfall (>200 centimetres (79 in) annually). Forest composition is dominated by semi-evergreen and evergreen deciduous tree species. These trees number in the thousands and contribute to the highest levels of species diversity in any terrestrial major habitat type. In general, biodiversity is highest in the forest canopy. The canopy can be divided into five layers: overstory canopy with emergent crowns, a medium layer of canopy, lower canopy, shrub level, and finally understory. [1]

Tropic of Cancer Line of northernmost latitude at which the sun can be directly overhead

The Tropic of Cancer, which is also referred to as the Northern Tropic, is the most northerly circle of latitude on Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead. This occurs on the June solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun to its maximum extent. It is currently 23°26′12.4″ (or 23.43678°) north of the Equator.

Tropic of Capricorn Line of southernmost latitude at which the sun can be directly overhead

The Tropic of Capricorn is the circle of latitude that contains the subsolar point on the December solstice. It is thus the southernmost latitude where the Sun can be directly overhead. Its northern equivalent is the Tropic of Cancer.

Evergreen plant that has leaves in all four seasons

In botany, an evergreen is a plant that has leaves throughout the year that are always green. This is true even if the plant retains its foliage only in warm climates, and contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season. There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs. Evergreens include:

These forests are home to more species than any other terrestrial ecosystem: Half of the world's species may live in these forests, where a square kilometer may be home to more than 1,000 tree species. These forests are found around the world, particularly in the Indo-Malayan Archipelago, the Amazon Basin, and the African Congo Basin. [1]

In biology, a species ( ) is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined. While these definitions may seem adequate, when looked at more closely they represent problematic species concepts. For example, the boundaries between closely related species become unclear with hybridisation, in a species complex of hundreds of similar microspecies, and in a ring species. Also, among organisms that reproduce only asexually, the concept of a reproductive species breaks down, and each clone is potentially a microspecies.

Ecosystem A community of living organisms together with the nonliving components of their environment

An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the system through photosynthesis and is incorporated into plant tissue. By feeding on plants and on one-another, animals play an important role in the movement of matter and energy through the system. They also influence the quantity of plant and microbial biomass present. By breaking down dead organic matter, decomposers release carbon back to the atmosphere and facilitate nutrient cycling by converting nutrients stored in dead biomass back to a form that can be readily used by plants and other microbes.

Congo Basin basin of the Congo River in west equatorial Africa

The Congo Basin is the sedimentary basin of the Congo River. The Congo Basin is located in Central Africa, in a region known as west equatorial Africa. The Congo Basin region is sometimes known simply as the Congo.

A perpetually warm, wet climate promotes more explosive plant growth than in any other environment on Earth. A tree here may grow over 23 metres (75 ft) in height in just 5 years. From above, the forest appears as an unending sea of green, broken only by occasional, taller "emergent" trees. These towering emergents are the realm of hornbills, toucans, and the harpy eagle. [1]

Hornbill family of birds

The hornbills (Bucerotidae) are a family of bird found in tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia and Melanesia. They are characterized by a long, down-curved bill which is frequently brightly colored and sometimes has a casque on the upper mandible. Both the common English and the scientific name of the family refer to the shape of the bill, "buceros" being "cow horn" in Greek. Hornbills have a two-lobed kidney. They are the only birds in which the first and second neck vertebrae are fused together; this probably provides a more stable platform for carrying the bill. The family is omnivorous, feeding on fruit and small animals. They are monogamous breeders nesting in natural cavities in trees and sometimes cliffs. A number of species of hornbill are threatened with extinction, mostly insular species with small ranges.

Toucan family of birds

Toucans are members of the Neotropical near passerine bird family Ramphastidae. The Ramphastidae are most closely related to the American barbets. They are brightly marked and have large, often-colorful bills. The family includes five genera and over forty different species.

Harpy eagle species of bird

The harpy eagle is a neotropical species of eagle. It is also called the American harpy eagle to distinguish it from the Papuan eagle, which is sometimes known as the New Guinea harpy eagle or Papuan harpy eagle. It is the largest and most powerful raptor found in the rainforest, and among the largest extant species of eagles in the world. It usually inhabits tropical lowland rainforests in the upper (emergent) canopy layer. Destruction of its natural habitat has caused it to vanish from many parts of its former range, and it is nearly extirpated in Central America. In Brazil, the harpy eagle is also known as royal-hawk.

The canopy is home to many of the forest's animals, including apes and monkeys. Below the canopy, a lower understory hosts to snakes and big cats. The forest floor, relatively clear of undergrowth due to the thick canopy above, is prowled by other animals such as gorillas and deer. [1]

Ape superfamily of mammals

Apes (Hominoidea) are a branch of Old World tailless simians native to Africa and Southeast Asia. They are the sister group of the Old World monkeys, together forming the catarrhine clade. They are distinguished from other primates by a wider degree of freedom of motion at the shoulder joint as evolved by the influence of brachiation. In traditional and non-scientific use, the term "ape" excludes humans, and is thus not equivalent to the scientific taxon Hominoidea. There are two extant branches of the superfamily Hominoidea: the gibbons, or lesser apes; and the hominids, or great apes.

Monkey animal of the "higher primates" (the simians), but excluding the apes

Monkey is a common name that may refer to groups or species of mammals, in part, the simians of infraorder Simiiformes. The term is applied descriptively to groups of primates, such as families of new world monkeys and old world monkeys. Many monkey species are tree-dwelling (arboreal), although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Most species are also active during the day (diurnal). Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent, especially the old world monkeys of Catarrhini.

Snake wiggling animal without legs

Snakes are elongated, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes. Like all other squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Many species of snakes have skulls with several more joints than their lizard ancestors, enabling them to swallow prey much larger than their heads with their highly mobile jaws. To accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes' paired organs appear one in front of the other instead of side by side, and most have only one functional lung. Some species retain a pelvic girdle with a pair of vestigial claws on either side of the cloaca. Lizards have evolved elongate bodies without limbs or with greatly reduced limbs about twenty-five times independently via convergent evolution, leading to many lineages of legless lizards. Legless lizards resemble snakes, but several common groups of legless lizards have eyelids and external ears, which snakes lack, although this rule is not universal.

All levels of these forests contain an unparalleled diversity of invertebrate species, including New Guinea’s stick insects and butterflies that can grow over 30 centimetres (1 ft) in length. [1]

Invertebrate Animals without a vertebrate column

Invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column, derived from the notochord. This includes all animals apart from the subphylum Vertebrata. Familiar examples of invertebrates include arthropods, mollusks, annelids, and cnidarians.

New Guinea Island in the Pacific Ocean

New Guinea is a large island separated by a shallow sea from the rest of the Australian continent. It is the world's second-largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 785,753 km2 (303,381 sq mi), and the largest wholly or partly within the Southern Hemisphere and Oceania.


Birdwings are butterflies in the swallowtail family, that belong to the genera Trogonoptera, Troides, and Ornithoptera. Most recent authorities recognise 36 species, however, this is debated, and some authorities include additional genera. Birdwings are named for their exceptional size, angular wings, and birdlike flight. They are native to the Indian subcontinent, mainland and archipelagic Southeast Asia, and Australasia.

Many forests are being cleared for farmland, while others are subject to large-scale commercial logging. An area the size of Ireland is destroyed every few years. [1]


Tropical and subtropical moist forests (TSMF) as shown within the Holdridge Life Zones classification scheme, and includes moist forests, wet forests, and rainforests. Lifezones Pengo, TSMF.svg
Tropical and subtropical moist forests (TSMF) as shown within the Holdridge Life Zones classification scheme, and includes moist forests, wet forests, and rainforests.

The biome includes several types of forests:

Notable ecoregions

A number of TSMF ecoregions are notable for their biodiversity and endemism: [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Global 200 is the list of ecoregions identified by WWF, the global conservation organization, as priorities for conservation. According to WWF, an ecoregion is defined as a "relatively large unit of land or water containing a characteristic set of natural communities that share a large majority of their species dynamics, and environmental conditions". So, for example, based on their levels of endemism, Madagascar gets multiple listings, ancient Lake Baikal gets one, and the North American Great Lakes get none.

Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests biome

The tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forest is a habitat type defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature and is located at tropical and subtropical latitudes. Though these forests occur in climates that are warm year-round, and may receive several hundred centimeters of rain per year, they have long dry seasons which last several months and vary with geographic location. These seasonal droughts have great impact on all living things in the forest.

Temperate rainforest

Temperate rainforests are coniferous or broadleaf forests that occur in the temperate zone and receive heavy rainfall.

Tropical rainforest specific ecosystem

Tropical rainforests are rainforests that occur in areas of tropical rainforest climate in which there is no dry season – all months have an average precipitation of at least 60 mm – and may also be referred to as lowland equatorial evergreen rainforest. True rainforests are typically found between 10 degrees north and south of the equator ; they are a sub-set of the tropical forest biome that occurs roughly within the 28 degree latitudes. Within the World Wildlife Fund's biome classification, tropical rainforests are a type of tropical moist broadleaf forest that also includes the more extensive seasonal tropical forests.

Madagascar lowland forests

The Madagascar lowland forests or Madagascar humid forests are a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion found on the eastern coast of the island of Madagascar, home to a plant and animal mix that is 80 to 90% endemic, with the forests of the eastern plain being a particularly important location of this endemism. They are included in the Global 200 list of outstanding ecoregions.

Laurel forest Type of subtropical forest

Laurel forest, also called laurisilva or laurissilva, is a type of subtropical forest found in areas with high humidity and relatively stable, mild temperatures. The forest is characterized by broadleaf tree species with evergreen, glossy and elongated leaves, known as "laurophyll" or "lauroid". Plants from the laurel family (Lauraceae) may or may not be present, depending on the location.

An evergreen forest is a forest made up of evergreen trees. They occur across a wide range of climatic zones, and include trees such as conifers, live oak, and holly in cold climates, eucalypts, acacias and banksias in more temperate zones, and rainforest trees in tropical zones.

KwaZulu-Cape coastal forest mosaic

The Kwazulu-Cape coastal forest mosaic is a subtropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of South Africa. It covers an area of 17,800 square kilometers (6,900 sq mi) in South Africa's Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

Cordillera de la Costa montane forests

The Cordillera de la Costa montane forests (NT0117) is a montane ecoregion of the Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forest Biome, in the Venezuelan Coastal Range on the Caribbean Sea in northern Venezuela.

Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin rainforest

The Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin rain forests is a subtropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion which occupies the lower hillsides of the mountainous border region joining India, Bangladesh, and Burma (Myanmar). The ecoregion covers an area of 135,600 square kilometres (52,400 sq mi). Located where the biotas of the Indian Subcontinent and Indochina meet, and in the transition between subtropical and tropical regions of Asia, the Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin rain forests are home to great biodiversity. The WWF rates the ecoregion as "Globally Outstanding" in biological distinctiveness.

Borneo lowland rain forest ecoregion of Borneo

Borneo lowland rain forest is an ecoregion, within the tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests biome, of the large island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. It supports approximately 10,000 plant species, 380 bird species and several mammal species. The Borneo lowland rain forest is diminishing due to logging, hunting and conversion to commercial land use. The Borneo lowland rain forest is widely considered the second-oldest rainforest in the world after the Daintree Rainforest in Australia.

Sri Lanka lowland rain forests

The Sri Lanka lowland rain forests represents Sri Lanka's Tropical rainforests below 1,000 m (3,281 ft) in elevation in the southwestern part of the island. The year-around warm, wet climate together with thousands years of isolation from mainland India have resulted in the evolution of numerous plants and animal species that can only be found in rain forests in Sri Lanka. The thick forest canopy is made up of over 150 species of trees, some of the emergent layer reaching as high as 45 m (148 ft). The lowland rain forests accounts for 2.14 percent of Sri Lanka's land area. This ecoregion is the home of the jungle shrew, a small endemic mammal of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has the highest density of amphibian species worldwide. Many of these, including 250 species of tree frogs, live in these rain forests.

Southern Zanzibar-Inhambane coastal forest mosaic

Southern Zanzibar-Inhambane coastal forest mosaic is a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of eastern Africa. It is a southern variation of Northern Zanzibar-Inhambane coastal forest mosaic. The ecoregion supports habitats of forest, savanna and swamps. The southern portion of the ecoregion is not very well known due to the prolonged civil war in Mozambique.

The Isthmian-Atlantic moist forests (NT0129) are a Central American tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion located in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

The Solimões-Japurá moist forest (NT0163) is an ecoregion in northwest Brazil and eastern Peru and Colombia in the Amazon biome. It has a hot climate with high rainforest throughout the year, and holds one of the most diverse collections of fauna and flora in the world. The ecoregion is relatively intact.

Napo moist forests

The Napo moist forests (NT0142) is an ecoregion in the western Amazon rainforest of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Chocó-Darién moist forests

The Chocó-Darién moist forests (NT0115) is an ecoregion in the west of Colombia and east of Panama. The region has extremely high rainfall, and the forests hold great biodiversity. The northern and southern parts of the ecoregion have been considerably modified for ranching and farming, and there are threats from logging for paper pulp, uncontrolled gold mining, coca growing and industrialisation, but the central part of the ecoregion is relatively intact.


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