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Forest ecosystem: what is it, characteristics, flora and fauna

Humans for hundreds of years have studied ecosystems to better understand nature and the relationships that occur in it, between communities of living beings and the environment that surrounds them. Within the ecosystems we find 4 main types: terrestrial ecosystems, aquatic ecosystems, mixed ecosystems or artificial ecosystems. In this EcologiaVerde article we will talk about a type of terrestrial ecosystem called a forest ecosystem.

If you want to have more information about the forest ecosystem, continue reading this interesting article in which it will be shown what the forest ecosystem is, its characteristics, flora and fauna .

What is the forest ecosystem

The forest ecosystem are areas in which trees dominate , in which there are biologically integrated communities of animals, plants and microorganisms forming the biocenosis or biotic group, and in turn these communities interact with the abiotic elements present (soils, climate, water … ).

As has already been said, in this type of ecosystem , trees predominate and these form forests, the forests within the forest ecosystem act as a set of components, as well as a set of ecosystem processes. If you want to learn more about the biomes called forests and the forest ecosystem, go ahead and read this other post about the different types of forests, their characteristics and photos .

Forest ecosystem: characteristics

A forest system is very diverse and its characteristics are equally varied. The main characteristics of the forest ecosystem are shown below :

  • For trees to grow in a forest ecosystem, temperatures above 10 ºC are necessary.
  • They are ecosystems that depend on water, therefore its availability is important. That is why there are no forest ecosystems at altitudes of 3500 to 4000 meters above sea level, around parallel 70º south or north.
  • They thrive in deep, nutrient-rich soils, but not in very stony, shallow soils.
  • In the areas where forest ecosystems are established, abundant organic matter is generated, in addition to becoming water receiving areas. Since they have a barrier function that stops the humid winds and facilitates the condensation of the water, thus generating the precipitations.
  • It is a great regulator of water runoff and infiltration. They filter the water through their vegetation and return it by evapotranspiration.
  • There is a positive symbiosis between the fungi and the roots present in the soil of the forest ecosystem. To learn more about this topic, we encourage you to read this other post on What are mycorrhizae and types .
  • The plant structure of this ecosystem is very complex found in the understory , which is the lowest part where shrubs and herbaceous grow, and also some species of trees. Although there can also be between two and five levels of woody vegetation.
  • The high primary productivity and the complex structure that it presents, means that in the forest ecosystem there is a great variety of ecological niches, thus allowing the existence of a great diversity of organisms.

Of course, its characteristics include the flora and fauna of the forest ecosystem , but this part of the topic of the components of the forest ecosystem is broader and, therefore, we will talk about it in the next few lines.

Forest ecosystem: flora

The flora of the forest ecosystem is very varied in terms of tree species, since these change depending on the climatic zone that is found. In the rainforests that are part of tropical forest ecosystems is where the greatest diversity of trees are found. On the other hand, it is in the subarctic forest ecosystem where the diversity is lower, although it is the taiga , a boreal forest with a large number of trees. There are also temperate and tropical ecosystems. Among the plant species of the forest ecosystem , we can highlight the following:

Flora of cold forest ecosystems

Coniferous species are abundant in this type of ecosystem.

  • White pine ( Pinus strobus ).
  • Boreal trees such as the White Fir, Black Fir and Balsam Fir belonging to the genus Populus.
  • Aspen trees ( Populus tremuloides ).

Here you can learn more about Araucarias or coniferous trees: types, names and characteristics .

Plants of temperate forest ecosystems

Angiosperm species and some species that have been cultivated such as olive or laurel are frequent in them .

  • The cork oak ( Quercus suber ).
  • Holm oak ( Quercus ilex ).
  • Laurel ( Laurus nobilis ).
  • The olive tree (Olea europaea).
  • Oak ( Quercus coccifer ).
  • Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis ).
  • Aleppo pine ( Pinus halepensis ).
  • Juniper bushes ( Juniperus spp.).
  • Ericaceae shrubs such as heather.


Flora of tropical forest ecosystems

Conifers are scarce and there are mainly diverse species of arboreal angiosperms. The families of Anacardiaceae, Lauraceae, Moraceae and legumes dominate. There are also fruit crops such as mango or cocoa.

  • Cocoa ( Theobroma cacao ).
  • Rubber tree ( Hevea brasiliensis ).
  • Heliconia ( Heliconiaceae ).
  • The mijao ( Anacardium excelsum ).
  • The naked Indian or mulatto stick ( Bursera simaruba ).
  • Ceiba ( Ceiba pentandra ).
  • Bitter ( Astronium graveolens ).

Forest ecosystem: fauna

As with flora, there is a great diversity of living organisms that are part of the fauna in this ecosystem and it also changes depending on the geographical location and climatic zone found. Here are some of the species of animals in the forest ecosystem :

Fauna of cold and temperate forest ecosystems

There are bears, deer, wolves and elk. Species of owls, crows, some songbirds and cuckoos also predominate.

Animals of tropical forest ecosystems

  • The caramerudo deer ( Odocoileus virginianus apurensis ).
  • The jaguar ( Panthera onca ) .
  • Anteater ( Myrmecophaga tridactyla ).
  • Harpy Eagle ( Harpia harpyja ).
  • Tropical porcupine ( Sphiggurus mexicanus ).
  • Poisonous species of snakes belonging to the genera Lachesis and Bothrops.

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