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Also known as ephemeral forest, it covers extensive areas of Europe and China, Central America, North America and part of South America. It takes up regions with rainy climate, hot summers and cold winter, but more temperate than the boreal zone. The average temperature of the cold month lieas between –5°C and 5°C. Precipitation is quite abundant, from 200 to 1,500 mm a year, and humidity is high during the entire year.

A thick layer of fallen leaves piles up on the ground, it is rich in nutrients and decomposes gradually as the leaves fall down, causing the enrichment of the soil. The leaves only remain year round in the humid, warmer areas. Flowers appear in spring and at the beginning of the summer, providing food to the pollinating insects. This forest’s vegetation can be differentiated to up to five levels.

Lichens and several types of moss are found on the ground, which are also common on trees. Then, herbs and grasses appear. A third level is comprised of bushes. After this, there are small trees like the Common Dogwood or Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), and at the last level there is the canopy, which forms an arboreal stratum some 20 to 30 meters high. Some species of tree are oaks, hemlocks, maples, beeches, chestnuts, southern magnolias, walnuts, elms and lime trees. In most of the broad-leaved deciduous forests there are a few species of dominant trees, reason for which they are commonly referred to as beech and maple forests or oak and walnut forests, depending of the most abundant types of trees.

However, in the east of the United States there are forests that have over 80 species of tree, including, oaks, beeches, magnolias, limes, walnuts and other species, many of them scarce.In certain areas of western North America where the climate is too dry, open temperate forests are found. These forests are characterized for small trees or ones that have a spacious growth, with an undergrowth made up of herbs or bushes. An example of this open forest is the Rocky Pine forest and the Juniper forest. Both develop  in the south east of the United States, taking up the states of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. The Asian deciduous forest, which is spread throughout China, Japan and Korea is similar to the American and the Western European. They are made up of beeches, oaks, hornbeams, ashes and birches.


Generally, the fauna of the deciduous forest is associated to the stratification and forms of growth of the plants and trees. This, because animals must find how to adapt to different diets in different seasons.This way, many species live an arboreal life and great percentage goes into hibernation during the winter, like the bear. In the case of forest arthropods (including invertebrates like insects, arachnids, etc.), most of them are associated to a single stratum, but others pass through two or more.

The higher concentration and diversity of animals is found at ground level. Some of them are: rats, shrews, land squirrels and forest salamanders. Within the mammals there are some species like the deer and boars, which feed on herbs, bushes and low trees; but there are also carnivores like the fox and lynx.Birds rarely move freely among the different levels of the jungle, they usually remain in one. In addition, they migrate to warmer areas in winter. The most abundant species are geese, woodpeckers, sparrowhawks, the Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus), the Red-Eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) and the Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens).

The destruction of the deciduous forest

In recent times this forest has gradually been destroyed due to the intervention of Man. The forests of Europe and Asia have been eliminated in great proportions, basically to destine land to agricultural ends. This way, what remains is mainly a semi natural forest (half native and half used for forestry). Some mountainous regions of Central Europe make up the exception to this scene.

On the other hand, there are some native areas of deciduous forests in North America, despite forest exploitation, fires and the building of roads. On a different subject, introduced diseases and insects have caused serious damages.

For example, chestnut blight (caused by a fungus) was accidentally introduced into the United States, eliminating the American Chestnut almost entirely.

The Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar), which escaped from a silk moth farm in Massachusetts, is putting the American deciduous forests at risk.

The Dutch Elm disease, which is transmitted through beetles in the oak’s bark, has devastated these forests in most of North America.Another problem, the cause of which is as of yet unknown, is forest recession, meaning, the increase in the mortality of several trees of the deciduous forest. An excessive number of Sugar Maples (Acer saccharum) is in regression, experiencing mortality rates of up to 59% in some areas. Other trees in recession are beeches, red maples and American Ash trees.

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