Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests

Last updated
Distribution of tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests Biome map 01.svg
Distribution of tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests

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



Moist broadleaf forest in Mudumalai National Park Hidden Beauty of Nilgiris 03.jpg
Moist broadleaf forest in Mudumalai National Park

TSMF is generally found in large, discontinuous patches centered on the equatorial belt and between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, TSMF are characterized by low variability in annual temperature and high levels of rainfall of more than 200 cm (79 in) annually. Forest composition is dominated by evergreen and semi-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] [2] [3]

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]

A perpetually warm, wet climate makes these environments more productive than any other terrestrial environment on Earth and promotes explosive plant growth. [4] A tree here may grow over 23 m (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]

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]

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 cm (1 ft) in length. [1]

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.
Painting of the manigua in Colombia, oil on canvas. Manigua-Oleoenlienzo.jpg
Painting of the manigua in Colombia, oil on canvas.

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

Biome Community of organisms associated with an environment

A biome is a biogeographical unit consisting of a biological community that has formed in response to a shared regional climate. Biomes may span more than one continent. Biome is a broader term than habitat and can comprise a variety of habitats.

Rainforest Type of forest with high rainfall

Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy, moisture-dependent vegetation, the presence of epiphytes and lianas and the absence of wildfire. Rainforest can be classified as tropical rainforest or temperate rainforest, but other types have been described.

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 that last several months and vary with geographic location. These seasonal droughts have great impact on all living things in the forest.

Queensland tropical rain forests

The Queensland tropical rain forests ecoregion covers a portion of the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia and belonging to the Australasian realm. The forest contains the world's best living record of the major stages in the evolutionary history of the world's land plants, including most of the world's relict species of plants from the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. The history of the evolution of marsupials and songbirds is also well represented.

Temperate rainforest Forests in the temperate zone

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

Tropical rainforest Forest in areas with heavy rainfall in the tropics

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.

Malabar Coast moist forests Ecoregion in India

The Malabar Coast moist forests are a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of southwestern India.

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.

A temperate forest is a forest found between the tropical and boreal regions, located in the temperate zone. It is the second largest biome on our planet, covering 25% of the world's forest area, only behind the boreal forest, which covers about 33%. These forests cover both hemispheres at latitudes ranging from 25 to 50 degrees, wrapping the planet in a belt similar to that of the boreal forest. Due to its large size spanning several continents, there are several main types: deciduous, coniferous, mixed forest, and rainforest.

Hawaiian tropical rainforests Tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion in the Hawaiian Islands of the United States

The Hawaiian tropical rainforests are a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion in the Hawaiian Islands. They cover an area of 6,700 km2 (2,600 sq mi) in the windward lowlands and montane regions of the islands. Coastal mesic forests are found at elevations from sea level to 300 m (980 ft). Mixed mesic forests occur at elevations of 750 to 1,250 m, while wet forests are found from 1,250 to 1,700 m. Moist bogs and shrublands exist on montane plateaus and depressions. For the 28 million years of existence of the Hawaiian Islands, they have been isolated from the rest of the world by vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean, and this isolation has resulted in the evolution of an incredible diversity of endemic species, including fungi, mosses, snails, birds, and other wildlife. In the lush, moist forests high in the mountains, trees are draped with vines, orchids, ferns, and mosses. This ecoregion includes one of the world's wettest places, the slopes of Mount Waiʻaleʻale, which average 373 in (9,500 mm) of rainfall per year.

Lower Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests Ecoregion of India and Bangladesh

The Lower Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests is a tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests ecoregion of Bangladesh and India. The ecoregion covers an area of 254,100 square kilometres (98,100 sq mi), comprising most of Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar and Tripura, and extending into adjacent states of Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and a tiny part of Assam.

Mizoram–Manipur–Kachin rain forests

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.

Southern Zanzibar–Inhambane coastal forest mosaic Tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of eastern Africa

The Southern Zanzibar-Inhambane coastal forest mosaic, also known as the Southern Swahili coastal forests and woodlands, 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 as well studied due to the 1977-1992 civil war in Mozambique.

Eastern Australian temperate forests Ecoregion in Australia

The Eastern Australian temperate forests is a broad ecoregion of open forest on uplands starting from the east coast of New South Wales in the South Coast to southern Queensland, Australia. Although dry sclerophyll and wet sclerophyll eucalyptus forests predominate within this ecoregion, a number of distinguishable rainforest communities are present as well.

Montane ecosystems Ecosystems found in mountains

Montane ecosystems are found on the slopes of mountains. The alpine climate in these regions strongly affects the ecosystem because temperatures fall as elevation increases, causing the ecosystem to stratify. This stratification is a crucial factor in shaping plant community, biodiversity, metabolic processes and ecosystem dynamics for montane ecosystems. Dense montane forests are common at moderate elevations, due to moderate temperatures and high rainfall. At higher elevations, the climate is harsher, with lower temperatures and higher winds, preventing the growth of trees and causing the plant community to transition to montane grasslands, shrublands or alpine tundra. Due to the unique climate conditions of montane ecosystems, they contain increased numbers of endemic species. Montane ecosystems also exhibit variation in ecosystem services, which include carbon storage and water supply.

Tropical vegetation Vegetation in tropical latitudes

Tropical vegetation is any vegetation in tropical latitudes. Plant life that occurs in climates that are warm year-round is in general more biologically diverse that in other latitudes. Some tropical areas may receive abundant rain the whole year round, but others have long dry seasons which last several months and may vary in length and intensity with geographic location. These seasonal droughts have great impact on the vegetation, such as in the Madagascar spiny forests. Rainforest vegetation is categorized by five layers. The top layer being the upper tree layer. Here you will find the largest and widest trees in all the forest. These trees tend to have very large canopy's so they can be fully exposed to sunlight. A layer below that is the middle tree layer. Here you will find more compact trees and vegetation. These trees tend to be more skinny as they are trying to gain any sunlight they can. The third layer is the lower tree area. These trees tend to be around five to ten meters high and tightly compacted. The trees found in the third layer are young trees trying to grow into the larger canopy trees. The fourth layer is the shrub layer beneath the tree canopy. This layer is mainly populated by sapling trees, shrubs, and seedlings. The fifth and final layer is the herb layer which is the forest floor. The forest floor is mainly bare except for various plants, mosses, and ferns. The forest floor is much more dense than above because of little sunlight and air movement.

Vegetation classification is the process of classifying and mapping the vegetation over an area of the earth's surface. Vegetation classification is often performed by state based agencies as part of land use, resource and environmental management. Many different methods of vegetation classification have been used. In general, there has been a shift from structural classification used by forestry for the mapping of timber resources, to floristic community mapping for biodiversity management. Whereas older forestry-based schemes considered factors such as height, species and density of the woody canopy, floristic community mapping shifts the emphasis onto ecological factors such as climate, soil type and floristic associations. Classification mapping is usually now done using geographic information systems (GIS) software.

Seasonal tropical forest Type of tropical forest

Seasonal tropical forest, also known as moist deciduous, semi-evergreen seasonal, tropical mixed or monsoon forests, typically contain a range of tree species: only some of which drop some or all of their leaves during the dry season. This tropical forest is classified under the Walter system as (ii) tropical climate with high overall rainfall concentrated in the summer wet season and dry season: representing a range of habitats influenced by monsoon (Am) or tropical wet savannah (Aw) climates. Drier forests in the Aw climate zone are typically deciduous and placed in the Tropical dry forest biome: with further transitional zones (ecotones) of savannah woodland then tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands.

Geoff Tracey Australian rainforest ecologist

John Geoffrey Tracey was an Australian ecologist and botanist whose pioneering research work in partnership with Dr. Leonard Webb within the Rainforest Ecology Unit of the CSIRO in the 1950s led to the publication of the first systematic classification of Australian rainforest vegetation in the Journal of Ecology in 1959. By the early 80's, after decades of ongoing research, Tracey and Webb had accumulated a significant corpus of scientific evidence in support of the theory that Australian tropical rainforests had evolved in Gondwana over 100 million years ago and were not, as previously believed, relatively recent arrivals from South East Asia. This evidence, in combination with Tracey and Webb's 1975 publication of a collection of 15 vegetation maps entitled "Vegetation of the Humid Tropical Region of North Queensland", and Tracey's 1982 paper "The Vegetation of the Humid Tropical Region of North Queensland", helped to establish the scientific basis for a number of major conservation campaigns across Queensland and paved the way for the subsequent successful World Heritage nomination of the Wet Tropics of Queensland by Aila Keto in 1988.

Leonard Webb (academic) Australian ecologist and ethnobotanist

Leonard James Webb was a widely awarded Australian ecologist and ethnobotanist who was the author or joint-author of over 112 scientific papers throughout the course of his professional career. His pioneering work as Senior Principal Research Scientist alongside Geoff Tracey in the CSIRO Rainforest Ecology Research Unit in the 1950s led to the publication of the first systematic classification of Australian rainforest vegetation in the Journal of Ecology in 1959.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 CC-BY-SA-icon-80x15.png  This article incorporates text available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.World Wide Fund for Nature. "Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forest Ecoregions". Archived from the original on 2011-04-01. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  2. Webb, Len (1 Oct 1959). "A Physiognomic Classification of Australian Rain Forests". Journal of Ecology. British Ecological Society : Journal of Ecology Vol. 47, No. 3, pp. 551-570. 47 (3): 551–570. doi:10.2307/2257290. JSTOR   2257290.
  3. Tracey, J. G. (John Geoffrey) (1982), The Vegetation of the Humid Tropical Region of North Queensland, pp. 13–20
  4. Basic Biology (2016). "Forest".
  5. Tracey, J. G. (John Geoffrey) (1982), The Vegetation of the Humid Tropical Region of North Queensland, pp. 13–20
  6. Beard, J.S.; Keneally, K.F. (1987), 'Rainforests of Western Australia'. In 'The rainforest legacy: Australian national rainforests study'. Special Australian heritage publication series 7(1), pp. 289–304
  7. Webb, L. J. (Leonard James); Tracey, J. G. (John Geoffrey) (1982), An ecological survey of the monsoon forests of the north-western region of the Northern Territory, Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service
  8. Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Dunlop, Clyde (1987), The status of monsoon vine forests in the Northern Territory: a perspective. In 'The rainforest legacy: Australian national rainforests study. Special Australian heritage publication series 7(1)
  9. Stanton, J.P.; Fell, David. G. (2005). "The rainforests of Cape York Peninsula". Rainforest CRC via National Library of Australia.
  10. Tracey, J. G. (John Geoffrey) (1982), The Vegetation of the Humid Tropical Region of North Queensland, pp. 34–38
  11. Tracey, J. G. (John Geoffrey) (1982), The Vegetation of the Humid Tropical Region of North Queensland, pp. 20–25
  12. Pichardo, Esteban. Diccionario provincial casi-razonado de vozes cubanas 3d ed. Havana 1861 p. 172
  13. Cámara Artigas, Rafael; Martínez Batlle, José Ramón; Díaz del Olmo, Fernando. Desarrollo sostenible y medio ambiente en República Dominicana: Medios naturales, manejo histórico, conservación y protección. Sevilla 2012. ISBN 84-00-08392-X, p. 169.
  14. Hernández Aquino, Luis (1993). Diccionario de voces indígenas de Puerto Rico. p. 330.
  15. Tracey, J. G. (John Geoffrey) (1982), The Vegetation of the Humid Tropical Region of North Queensland, pp. 13–70
  16. Terborgh, J; Winter, B (1983). "A method for siting parks and reserves with special reference to Colombia and Ecuador". Biological Conservation. 27: 45–58. doi:10.1016/0006-3207(83)90005-8.
  17. Whitmore, TC; Prance, GT, eds. (1987). Biogeography and Quaternary history in tropical America. Oxford Monographs on Biogeography. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.
  18. Borhidi, A (1991). Phytogeography and vegetation ecology of Cuba. Budapest, Hungary: Akadémiai Kiadó.
  19. Kingdon, J (1997). African mammals . San Diego, California, USA: Academic Press. ISBN   9780124083554.
  20. Review of the protected areas system in the Afrotropical Realm. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN/UNEP. 1986a.
  21. Kingdon, J (1989). Island Africa: the evolution of Africa's rare animals and plants. Princeton, New Jersey, USA: Princeton University Press.
  22. Hamilton, AC; Bensted-Smith, R (1989). Forest conservation in the East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.
  23. Lovett, JC; Wasser, SK, eds. (1993). Biogeography and ecology of the rain forests of eastern Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  24. Preston-Mafham, K (1991). Madagascar: A natural history. Oxford, UK: Facts on File.
  25. World Wildlife Fund, ed. (2001). "Puerto Rican moist forests". WildWorld Ecoregion Profile. National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
  26. Mittermeier, R.A.; Werner, T.B.; Lees, A. (1996). "New Caledonia – a conservation imperative for an ancient land". Oryx. 30 (2): 104–112. doi: 10.1017/s0030605300021487 .