Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests

From Academic Kids

The tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forest biome is located at tropical and subtropical latitudes. Though these forests occur in climates that are warm year-round, and may receive several hundred centimeters or rain per year, they deal with long dry seasons which last several months and vary with geographic location. These seasonal droughts have great impact on all living things in the forest. Deciduous trees predominate in most of these forests, and during the drought a leafless period occurs, which varies with species type. Because trees lose moisture though their leaves, the shedding of leaves allows trees such as teak and mountain ebony to conserve water during dry periods. The newly bare trees open up the canopy layer, enabling sunlight to reach ground level and facilitate the growth of thick underbrush. Trees on moister sites and those with access to ground water tend to be evergreen. Infertile sites also tend to support evergreen trees. Three tropical dry broadleaf forest ecoregions, the East Deccan dry evergreen forests the Sri Lanka dry-zone dry evergreen forests, and the Southeastern Indochina dry evergreen forests, are characterized by evergreen trees.

Though less biologically diverse than rainforests, tropical dry forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife including monkeys, large cats, parrots, various rodents, and ground dwelling birds. Mammalian biomass tends to be higher in dry forests than in rain forests, especially in Asian and African dry forests. Many of these species display extraordinary adaptations to the difficult climate.

This biome is alternately known as the tropical and subtropical dry forest biome or the tropical and subtropical deciduous forest biome. Locally some of these forests are also called monsoon forests, and they tend to merge into savannas.


Geographical Variation

Dry forests tend to exist north and south of the equatorial rainforest belt, south of the subtropical deserts, generally in two bands, one between 10° and 20°N latitude and the other between 10° and 20°S latitude. The most diverse dry forests in the world occur in southern Mexico and in the Bolivian lowlands. The dry forests of the Pacific Coast of northwestern South America support a wealth of unique species due to their isolation. The subtropical forests of Maputoland-Pondoland in southeastern Africa are diverse and support many endemics). The dry forests of central India and Indochina are notable for their diverse large vertebrate faunas). Dry forests of Madagascar and New Caledonia are also highly distinctive (pronounced endemism and a large number of relictual taxa) for a wide range of taxa and at higher taxonomic levels.

Biodiversity Patterns and Requirements

Species tend to have wider ranges than moist forest species, although in some regions many species do display highly restricted ranges; most dry forest species are restricted to tropical dry forests, particularly in plants; beta diversity and alpha diversity high but typically lower than adjacent moist forests.

Effective conservation of dry broadleaf forests requires the preservation of large and continuous areas of forest. Large natural areas are required to maintain larger predators and other vertebrates, and to buffer sensitive species from hunting pressure. The persistence of riparian forests and water sources is critical for many dry forest species. Large swathes of intact forest are required to allow species to recover from occasional large events, like forest fires.

Dry forests are highly sensitive to excessive burning and deforestation; overgrazing and exotic species can also quickly alter natural communities; restoration is possible but challenging, particulary if degradation has been intense and persistent. Degrading dry broadleaf forests often leaves thorny shrublands, thickets, or dry grasslands in their place.

Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests ecoregions

Afrotropic ecozone

Cape Verde Islands dry forests (Cape Verde)
Madagascar dry deciduous forests (Madagascar)
Zambezian Cryptosepalum dry forests

Australasia ecozone

Lesser Sundas deciduous forests (Indonesia)
New Caledonia dry forests (New Caledonia)
Sumba deciduous forests (Indonesia)
Timor and Wetar deciduous forests (Indonesia)

Indomalaya ecozone

Central Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests (India)
Central Indochina dry forests (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam)
Chota-Nagpur dry deciduous forests (India)
East Deccan dry evergreen forests (India)
Irrawaddy dry forests (Myanmar)
Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests (India)
Narmada Valley dry deciduous forests (India)
Northern dry deciduous forests (India)
South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests (India)
Southeastern Indochina dry evergreen forests (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand)
Southern Vietnam lowland dry forests (Vietnam)

Sri Lanka dry-zone dry evergreen forests (Sri Lanka)
Neotropic ecozone

Apure-Villavicencio dry forests (Venezuela)
Atlantic Dry Forests (Brazil)
Bahamian dry forests (Bahamas)
Bajío dry forests (Mexico)
Balsas dry forests (Mexico)
Bolivian montane dry forests (Bolivia)
Cauca Valley dry forests (Colombia)
Cayman Islands dry forests (Cayman Islands)
Central American dry forests (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua)
Chaco (Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay)
Chiapas Depression dry forests (Guatemala, Mexico)
Chiquitano dry forests (Bolivia, Brazil)
Cuban dry forests (Cuba)
Ecuadorian dry forests (Ecuador)
Hispaniolan dry forests (Dominican Republic, Haiti)
Jalisco dry forests (Mexico)
Jamaican dry forests (Jamaica)
Lara-Falcón dry forests (Venezuela)
Leeward Islands dry forests (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles)
Magdalena Valley dry forests (Colombia)
Maracaibo dry forests (Venezuela)
Marañón dry forests (Peru)
Panamanian dry forests (Panama)
Patía Valley dry forests (Colombia)
Puerto Rican dry forests (Puerto Rico)
Revillagigedo Islands dry forests (Mexico)
Sierra de la Laguna dry forests (Mexico)
Sinaloan dry forests (Mexico)
Sinu Valley dry forests (Colombia)
Southern Pacific dry forests (Mexico)
Trinidad and Tobago dry forests (Trinidad and Tobago)
Tumbes-Piura dry forests (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru)
Veracruz dry forests (Mexico)
Windward Islands dry forests (Grenada, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)
Yucatán dry forests (Mexico)

Nearctic ecozone

Sonoran-Sinaloan transition subtropical dry forest (Mexico)

Oceania ecozone

Fiji tropical dry forests (Fiji)
Hawaii tropical dry forests (Hawaii)
Marianas tropical dry forests (Guam, Northern Marianas)
Yap tropical dry forests (Federated States of Micronesia)

Template:Terrestrial biomes

Afrotropic | Antarctic | Australasia | Indomalaya | Nearctic | Neotropic | Oceania | Palearctic

External link

  • info on this biome (

Much material in this article has been reworked from Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests (, byWWF ( with their permission.


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