Bormann, Bernard T. Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
Meyer, Judy L. Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.
Schowalter, Timothy D. Department of Entomology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
Hansen, Everett Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
Last reviewed:April 2017
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- Ecosystem concept
- Biomass and production
- Forest productivity
- Forest disturbance and succession
- Nitrogen fixation
- Decomposition and nutrient cycling
- Mutualistic symbiosis
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The trees, shrubs, herbs, bacteria, fungi, and animals, together with the surrounding air, soil, water, organic debris, and rocks (environmental substrate), interacting inside a defined boundary. Forests and woodlands occupy about 38% of the Earth's surface, and they are more productive and have greater biodiversity than other types of terrestrial vegetation. Forests grow in a wide variety of climates, from steamy tropical rainforests to frigid arctic mountain slopes, and from arid interior mountains to windy rain-drenched coastlines. Forests with deciduous and evergreen trees are found in the tropics, in the temperate zone, and in the taiga of high latitudes. Forests are found growing on top of moving glaciers; in areas with little rainfall that survive on impacted fog droplets; and in areas with standing freshwater and even saltwater. The type of forest in a given place results from a complex of factors, including frequency and type of disturbances, seed sources, soils, slope and aspect, climate, seasonal patterns of rainfall, insects and pathogens, and history of human influence (Fig. 1). See also: Forest and forestry; Rainforest
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