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Although humans have long utilized resources associated with all forest biomes — tropical, subtropical, temperate and boreal — I suggest that it is the expanse of human populations in the temperate region that has left the most indelible anthropogenic signature among forested regions. Thus, if there is a common theme across the global distribution of temperate forests, it is that the human imprint on them is indelibly large and deep, and more so than with any other forest biome type. Clearly, global change is not only quite evident in all temperate forests of the world, but also it has long been so.

Indeed, there is an ancient legacy of human alteration of landscapes of temperate forests on a global scale. Even the English landscape that was so dear to Tansley e. These observations challenge the very notion of what truly constitutes a primary or pristine state. Further, global change should never be considered a solely recent, modern phenomenon.

New terminology has recently been developed to address this awareness. Ellis conceptualized how humans, more than any other multicellular organism, have transformed Earth's ecosystems, including temperate forests, leading to what he calls anthroecology theory.

The result has been chronic anthropogenic change in land use and cover, patterns of energy consumption, ecosystem properties e. This provides a conceptual framework for this review, as it links ancient use of temperate forests to current patterns of climate change. The purpose of this review is to bring into focus the diverse forests of the temperate region of the biosphere, with particular emphasis on crucial challenges for the future of temperate forests.

Consequently, somewhat more emphasis will be placed on temperate forests of the Northern Hemisphere. Temperate forests dominate essentially all of England and northern Europe, with a narrow band reaching far into Russia, much of eastern China and virtually all of Japan Fig. Temperate conifers tend to dominate in more extreme conditions e. North American Pacific Northwest has been ascribed to unusually long photosynthetic seasons arising from mild winters with abundant rainfall Givnish, Fig.

The predominant climate of most of these forest regions is one of distinct cyclic, seasonal changes involving periods of growth and dormancy. Specific temporal patterns of seasonal change, however, display impressive variability among temperate forest regions, a function of latitude longer growing seasons toward at lower latitudes , topographic features e. The latter is evidenced by the development of temperate rainforests associated with coastal main lands or islands, including the Pacific coast of North America and small areas of Great Britain and Japan, and throughout most of southern Chile, southeastern Australia and southern New Zealand Alaback, In North America the geological continental structure is generally symmetrical, beginning with the middle outward including shield, interior lowlands, mountains, coastal plains, continental shelves and ocean basins.

By contrast, Eurasia lacks such symmetry, with Europe being geologically separated from Asia by the Ural Mountains King, Most relevant is the occurrence of the last glacial maximum LGM , a period of widespread surface ice that ended c. Given the extent of LGM glaciers Fig.


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Despite their widespread occurrence, temperate forests of many regions are similar in development toward their present state. This was a time c. Increased warming during the Tertiary yielded to the cooler Quaternary, leading to the massive glaciers of the LGM over much of what is now boreal forest throughout the Northern Hemisphere Fig.

This pushed many species south toward the unglaciated refugia e. Interestingly, the LGM is essentially irrelevant for temperate forests of China, largely unaffected by Quaternary glaciation Liu, Pollen records reveal a diverse assemblage of tree genera at this time, varying from mixed conifer—hardwood to deciduous to widespread subtropical broadleaved evergreen forests; hardwoods comprised genera similar to other temperate forests of the Northern Hemisphere, with a diverse oak Quercus flora Liu, Throughout northern regions at this time, forests increased in diversity with thermophilous hardwoods expanding, replacing both pine and, toward the south, birch Liu, Implicit in their evidence is the intimate connection between occurrence of fire and the development of drought conditions in forested regions.

Temperate forests of North America occur in the eastern United States primarily as hardwood forests except for extreme high elevations and southeastern Coastal Plain pinelands and as conifer and mixed forests in parts of the western United States and Canada. Spring brings thunderstorm activity through mixing of cold polar air with moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.

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Soils of eastern forests are generally Alfisols, Inceptisols and Ultisols, glaciated towards the north Fig. Unglaciated soils are old, with soil pH decreasing with age. Soils of western forests are spatially variable. Montane conifer forest soils are usually young, derived from granites, gneisses and schists Peet, With the exception of the virtual elimination of the American chestnut Castanea dentata by the chestnut blight Cryphonectria parasitica beginning in , current eastern temperate forest types are largely similar to those originally described by Braun With the highest tree diversity occurring in the mixed mesophytic forest region of the Appalachians, dominant genera include oaks Quercus spp.

Conifer forests vary greatly within the broad temperate region of North America. Southeastern Coastal Plain conifer forests are predominantly pines Pinus spp. Before European settlement c. Montane conifer forests of western North America contain more genera than those of the eastern United States. Important genera include fir Abies spp. Some of these form mixed forests, especially those associated with elevation gradients and successional status following disturbances, such as fire; hardwoods include maple Acer spp.

Peet, The mild, moist climate of Pacific Northwest coastal forests west of the Cascade crest selects for a complex assortment of conifer species, including Pseudotsuga menziesii , Tsuga spp. The European Environment Agency divides Europe into 11 biogeographical regions, based on prevailing climate and proximity to bodies of water EEA, Temperate forests here are predominantly hardwood species, with conifer forests increasing in importance toward the north and with increasing elevation.

These extend farther east into western Russia, wherein climate becomes increasingly continental and drier, contrasting with the maritime climate toward the west.

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Many of the soils of Europe often are referred to collectively as brown earths, which are similar to North American Alfisols, except that many are developed from calcareous parent materials wherein they are more similar to Inceptisols. Evidence suggests that anthropogenic disturbance began there in the Neolithic, with widespread forest conversion beginning c.

EEA recognizes a mesophytic deciduous forest type, quite analogous to that which dominates the eastern United States. The current extent of European temperate conifer forests is greatly modified by past and current policies to plant vast areas of productive conifer species. Again, widespread native deciduous forests have been replaced by conifer plantations, modifying the general composition of the western European temperate forest.

Although some of these were transplanted from within Europe e. Norway spruce, Picea abies and Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris , others were imported from North America e.

Temperate Deciduous Forests

Not surprisingly, then, as with hardwood genera, predominant European conifer genera overlap greatly with those of North America, including Abies , Picea and Pinus EEA, The wettest areas are on the Korean peninsula. Mean winter temperatures range from c. Soils of Asian temperate forests are analogous to those of North American temperate forests. These vary from Alfisols in upland regions to Ultisols toward the south and east, with Entisols forming from alluvium along rivers. Forest type varies greatly with latitude; from north to south, this grades from mixed conifer to deciduous to mixed deciduous, then to widely distributed subtropical broadleaved evergreen forests Liu, Asian conifers increase in importance with increasing elevation.

Temperate Deciduous Forests: Biome Information, Facts

Because the distribution of land mass of the biosphere is decidedly asymmetrical, with far more land area being distributed north of the equator, temperate forests of the Southern Hemisphere lack the expansiveness so characteristic of the Northern Hemisphere. These forests are confined to relatively narrow bands along western South America, southeastern Australia including all of Tasmania and northern New Zealand, including the northwestern half of South Island. Dunn, M. Fajvan, R.

Freed, M. Grund, S. Horsley, A. Rhoads, and B. Ecological properties for the evaluation, management, and restoration of temperate deciduous forest ecosystems. Ecological Applications 6: — Biogeographic regionalisations. Tundra Taiga Montane grasslands and shrublands. Coniferous forests Broadleaf and mixed forests Deciduous forests Grasslands, savannas, and shrublands.

Temperate deciduous forest

Coniferous forests Moist broadleaf forests Dry broadleaf forests Grasslands, savannas, and shrublands. Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub Deserts and xeric shrublands. Flooded grasslands and savannas Riparian Wetland Mangrove. Endolithic zone.

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