Environmental Microbiology

Forest Ecosystem – Definition, Types, Functions

What is Forest Ecosystem? A forest ecosystem consists of both forests and resources. Forests are naturally renewable resources. The trees, shrubs, herbs,...

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This article writter by MN Editors on October 06, 2022

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Forest Ecosystem - Definition, Types, Functions
Forest Ecosystem - Definition, Types, Functions

What is Forest Ecosystem?

  • A forest ecosystem consists of both forests and resources.
  • Forests are naturally renewable resources.
  • The trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers, and ground cover that make up a forest are architecturally distinct from one another.
  • Soil, animals, insects, bacteria, and birds are the forest ecosystem’s most essential interacting components.
  • Forests cover around 18-20% of India’s total land area.

Types- Forest Ecosystem

1. Coniferous Forest (Boreal Forest)

  • Located in the Northern Hemisphere, south of the tundra, are the evergreen coniferous forests known as the Boreal.
  • They cover 20 million acres and stretch without a break across Europe, Asia, and North America, making them the world’s second-largest biome.
  • The United States only contains 11% of the world’s boreal forest, whereas Canada has 24%.
  • The snow forest, or Taiga, is another name for this forest.
  • Days are short and the winters are long and brutal.

2. Temperate Deciduous Forest

  • Biomes are grouped together due to their defining characteristics; temperate deciduous woods are classified as such because they experience all four seasons and the trees shed their leaves in the fall and winter.
  • Deciduous forests are found in the transition zone between temperate zones and tropical regions.
  • Therefore, the climate of this biome is influenced by air masses from both biomes.
  • Largest deciduous forests may be discovered in the Northern Hemisphere, which includes much of Asia, Europe, and North America.
  • Although deciduous forests can be found in the Southern Hemisphere, they are often significantly smaller than their Northern counterparts.

3. Temperate Evergreen Forest

  • During the Cenozoic, temperate evergreen forests first appeared.
  • There are temperate evergreen forests in both hot and cold temperature zones.
  • The density of evergreen trees prevents sunlight from reaching the ground.
  • They contain an assortment of autotrophs and heterotrophs.
  • There are temperate evergreen forests in both the northern and southern hemispheres.
  • Temperate evergreen woods are located in milder, more equatorial temperatures than temperate deciduous forests.
  • Consequently, it is found in North America, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

4. Tropical Rainforests

  • In terms of species variety and structural complexity, the tropical rainforest is the most complex ecosystem on Earth.
  • It flourishes best under optimal growing circumstances, which include of abundant rainfall and year-round warmth.
  • The World Wildlife Fund has designated tropical rainforests as Tropical Moist Broadleaf Forest.
  • Around 28 degrees north or south of the equator, tropical rain forests can be found in Asia, Australia, Africa, South America, Central America, Mexico, and various Pacific Islands.
  • They cover approximately 6-7 percent of the planet’s surface and are home to fifty percent of its biodiversity.

5. Temperate Rainforests

  • A biome characterised by a temperate climate is a temperate rainforest.
  • Simply speaking, temperate rainforests receive more rainfall than tropical rainforests but have a lower average temperature.
  • There are temperate rainforests in numerous temperate locations.
  • The Pacific coast of North America contains the greatest temperate rainforests in the world.

6. Subtropical Rainforests

  • Subtropical rainforests combine characteristics of tropical and temperate rainforests.
  • The dense vegetation extends a few feet above the ground, making it difficult to traverse the woodland.
  • The Subtropical Rainforest is home to more than fifty percent of the plant and animal species in the planet.
  • Subtropical rainforests are located outside of the exact equatorial region, but within or immediately next to the tropical zone, and exhibit more dramatic seasonal changes.
  • Subtropical rainforests exist in Central America, the West Indies, India, Madagascar, mainland Southeast Asia, and the Philippines.

7. Tropical Seasonal Forests

  • In regions with a lengthy dry season, a tropical seasonal forest grows.
  • The degree of defoliation that occurs during the dry season is dependent on the severity of the water deficit.
  • The forest has fewer tree strata and richer climbing and herbaceous plant growths than the tropical rainforest.
  • Seasonal tropical forests are distinguished by the fact that only certain tree species shed some or all of their leaves during the dry season.
  • They are also known as moist deciduous, semi-evergreen seasonal, tropical mixed, and monsoon forests.

8. Tropical Evergreen Rainforest

  • Only a small proportion of tropical woods get annual precipitation averaging between 80 and 400 inches.
  • This forest is distinguished by its deep and dense vegetation, which consists of tall trees of varying heights.

9. Tropical Deciduous Rainforest

  • In a tropical deciduous rainforest, broad-leaved trees and dense bushes, shrubs, etc. are the most prominent features.
  • There are two main seasons, summer and winter, that are clearly discernible.
  • This type of forest is widespread across the globe.
  • There is an abundance of plants and fauna here.

10. Taiga/Boreal

  • Located just south of the Tundra, the Taiga is dominated by evergreen conifers.
  • Almost half of the year has an average temperature below the freezing mark.

11. Mixed Forests

  • Mixed forests consisting of deciduous and coniferous trees are primarily found in mountainous regions.
  • These can be found in nearly every corner of the globe.

12. Mediterranean Forests

  • They are also known as scrublands because their climate is conducive to the growth of small oaks and pines.
  • The Mediterranean forest is home to numerous species of wildflowers and birds that feed on insects.
  • This woodland is also known by the term “maquis.”

Components of Forest Ecosystem

A. Abiotic Components

Abiotic Components of the forest include inorganic and organic soil components, temperature, precipitation, light, etc.

  • Nutrient Cycle: The nutrition cycle is a cyclical process. For ecosystems to function properly, nutrients are essential. 95% of the mass of living beings is composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Approximately 15 to 20 additional components are required in relatively tiny concentrations. These are continuously recycled between living and nonliving components of an ecosystem.
  • Energy Flow: In a forest environment, grass, which derives its nourishment from the sun, soil, and water, is consumed by grasshoppers, which are in turn consumed by frogs, snakes, and vultures (different trophic levels). In this process of eating and being eaten, nutrients are transferred from one level of a food chain to the next. Energy flow is the flow of energy that occurs along a food chain. The energy pyramid illustrates the total amount of energy at each trophic level of a food chain. The flow of energy is unidirectional at all times.

B. Biotic Components

Producers, consumers, and decomposers are all examples of Biotic Components.

  • Producers: The photosynthetic mechanism enables producers to create their own food. All green plants are considered producers of the ecosystem because they convert solar energy into chemical energy that may be used to create food.
  • Primary Consumers: Since customers are unable of preparing their own food, they rely on producers. Herbivorous animals obtain their nourishment by directly consuming the producers (plants). Primitive consumers include grasshoppers, deer, etc.
  • Secondary Consumers: Primary consumers provide the food for secondary consumers.
  • Decomposers: The decomposers of the forest ecosystem decompose dead plants and animals and return the nutrients to the soil so that the producers can use them. In addition to bacteria, termites and ants are significant decomposers in the Amazon jungle. Millipedes and earthworms also aid in decomposing organic materials.

Characteristics of Forest Ecosystem

  • Seasonal variation: The forest ecology of a specific region is dependent on the seasonal fluctuation of the nation in which the forest is located. In contrast, temperate woods experience four distinct seasonal changes.
  • Deciduous or evergreen in nature: A forest environment may consist either deciduous or evergreen trees, or both. A deciduous forest’s trees lose their leaves throughout the winter, but evergreen trees always retain theirs.
  • Canopy layer structure: The canopy layer is one of the most defining features of a forest ecosystem. Various species are protected by the dense canopy layers, which operate as a barrier against wind, rain, snow, etc. Some forest ecosystems, such as rainforests, are distinguished by distinct canopy levels, including treetops, upper canopy layer, lower canopy layer, and forest floor.
  • Attract shelter-seeking bird species: the forest ecosystem offers the most optimal settings for diverse bird species. As a result, these animals are drawn to the forest habitat and seek refuge among trees.
  • Attract insects & give habitat: The woodland environment is teeming with a vast assortment of insects. In the forest ecology, these insects discovered a vast array of shelter alternatives. Therefore, these insects are drawn to the natural habitats that the forest ecology provides.
  • Fertility of the soil: The soil of forest habitats varies in its fertility. For instance, the soil of temperate and tropical deciduous woods is particularly fertile and rich in nutrients, but the soil of boreal forests is predominantly acidic due to the decomposition of conifer needles. In the case of tropical rainforests, soil fertility is depleted as a result of continual nutrient leaching produced by excessive rainfall.

Forests are the natural gift that mother Earth has bestowed upon us. As a result of pollution and deforestation to satisfy our demands, the world’s forests are sadly being destroyed. It is time to remember the significance of forest ecosystems to the environment. Also remember how you may help conserve millions of plant and animal species by protecting the forest environment.

Functions of Forest Ecosystem

  • Goods Obtained from Forests:  Products Obtained from Forests There are numerous forest-obtained food products, including honey, wild meat, fruits, mushrooms, palm oil and wine, as well as medicinal herbs. In addition to edible components, forests provide us with timber, wood biomass, cork, etc. Old trees that are buried in the ground can be used as a source of fuel.
  • Ecological Functions: Forests play a crucial role in the maintenance of ecological elements such as climate, carbon storage, nitrogen cycle, and precipitation.
  • Culture and Social Benefits: Forest-dwelling tribes revere forests as goddesses of nature. The spirituality and traditional beliefs protect wild animals from hunters and urban tree cutting. Few contemporary individuals visit forests for enjoyment.

Economic Importance of Forests

  • In a few of nations, forests contribute nearly 100 percent of the gross domestic product. In a number of developing nations, woods provide between ten million and thirty to forty million formal and informal jobs.
  • Forests contain several medicinal herbs that have been used for centuries. In addition, the governments of numerous nations export these herbs for trade and profit. Several scientists are responsible for investigating the advantages and disadvantages of bound herbs, the properties of their edges, and their beneficial applications.

References 

  • https://prepp.in/news/e-492-forest-ecosystem-environment-notes
  • https://www.embibe.com/exams/forest-ecosystem/
  • https://www.toppr.com/guides/science/nature/ecosystem/forest-ecosystem/
  • https://www.earthreminder.com/forest-ecosystem-types-characteristics/
  • https://forestecosyst.springeropen.com/
  • https://www.treehugger.com/what-is-forest-ecosystem-and-biodiversity-1342815
  • https://www.un.org/esa/forests/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/UNFF13_BkgdStudy_ForestsEcoServices.pdf
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/forest-ecosystem
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_ecology
  • https://www.vedantu.com/biology/forest
  • https://www.gavinpublishers.com/article/view/forest-ecosystem-structure-and-functioning
  • https://www.slideshare.net/vedantparab/forest-ecosystem-53697756
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