Temperate Deciduous Forests
- LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 23 May 2012
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0012
- LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 23 May 2012
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0012
Given the global distribution of human populations and their coincidence with temperate deciduous forests, it is likely that when most people consider the term “forest,” what comes to mind most frequently is the temperate deciduous forest biome. Although not to the level of their tropical counterparts, temperate deciduous forests typically display high plant biodiversity and rates of net primary productivity. They contrast sharply, however, with tropical forests in the distribution of biodiversity and productivity. In tropical forests, greatest plant diversity is associated with the vegetation of greatest productivity—trees. By contrast, the greatest plant diversity—up to 90 percent—in temperate deciduous forests occurs among the plants of least physical stature: the herbaceous species. Given the close association between these forests and their use by human populations, whether for food, fiber, habitat, or recreation, it is not surprising that they have been well studied, particularly in North America, and thus have a rich literature going back many years. However, for the very reason of that intensive use, temperate deciduous forests have proved to be an ecological moving target, as timber harvesting, air pollution, and introduced pests (e.g., insects and parasites) have represented a chronic assault on the structure and function of these ecosystems.
The wide global distribution of temperate deciduous forests, generally occurring between 20° and 60° of latitude both north and south of the equator in five continents, precludes broad generalizations regarding their ecology. There are few, if any, single volumes devoted to an in-depth ecological handling of temperate forest biomes. Rather, there are several excellent compendia of global vegetation that include sections or chapters on temperate deciduous forests (Archibold 1995, Reich and Bolstad 2001) or books devoted to temperate deciduous forests of a particular country or region (Peterken 1996, Kirby and Watkins 1998, Nakashizuka and Matsumoto 2002). Clearly, the best historical reference for temperate deciduous forests of North America is Emma Lucy Braun’s classic Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America (Braun 1950). The first book of its kind, when published it was nearly encyclopedic in its descriptions of contrasting temperate forest associations the United States and Canada. Although its age of more than sixty years since first printing precludes some degree of current usefulness, other work (e.g., Dyer 2006) has revisited Braun’s original depictions of the most diverse forest type on North America. Less addressed than the trees, yet no less important to the structure and function of temperate deciduous forests, is the species-rich herbaceous stratum (Gilliam and Roberts 2003).
Archibold, O. William. 1995. Ecology of world vegetation. London: Chapman & Hall.
In this book, Archibold offers a comprehensive review of global vegetation structure and function, including a lengthy chapter that provides one of the more extensive overviews of the global temperate forest biome.
Braun, E. Lucy. 1950. Deciduous forests of eastern North America. Philadelphia: Blakiston.
An encyclopedic monograph that set the standard for vegetation science in North America and elsewhere. Braun provided the clearest picture of a vegetation type as it once was prior to anthropogenic disturbances such as timber harvesting, insects, disease, and pollution, and in doing so inspired generations of plant ecologists, especially in the United States.
Dyer, James M. 2006. Revisiting the deciduous forests of eastern North America. BioScience 56.4: 341–352.
Dyer reconsiders maps and descriptions from Braun 1950 and presents a new map of forest associations (based on data a broad network of current sample plots) that, despite displaying increased homogenization of forests in the formation’s central section, largely supports the geography of forest regions originally reported by Braun.
Gilliam, Frank S., and Mark R. Roberts, eds. 2003. The herbaceous layer in forests of eastern United States. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.
Based originally on a symposium presented at the 1998 annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, Gilliam and Roberts synthesize much of what is known of the most species-rich stratum of temperate deciduous forests, with more than 1,200 references.
Hanson, Paul J., and Stan D. Wullschleger. 2003. North American temperate deciduous forest responses to changing precipitation regimes. New York: Springer.
Using results from large-scale experimentation at Walker Branch Watershed, Tennessee, Hanson and Wullschleger describe mechanisms of temperate forest ecosystem response to climate change-mediated alterations in hydrologic budgets, explaining implications of change at both plant and stand levels, and extrapolating data to ecosystem-level responses, such as changes in nutrient cycling, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration.
Kirby, K. J., and C. Watkins, eds. 1998. The ecological history of European forests. Papers presented at the International Conference on Advances in Forest and Woodland History held at the University of Nottingham in September 1996. London: CAB International.
Includes a wide range of case studies on specific aspects of the ecological history of European forests, along with an introduction by Kirby and Watkins on historical ecology and European woodland.
Nakashizuka, Tohru, and Yoosuke Matsumoto. 2002. Diversity and interaction in a temperate forest community: Ogawa Forest Reserve of Japan. Berlin: Springer.
Based on work at the Ogawa Forest Reserve, a species-rich temperate deciduous old-growth forest in central Japan, Nakashizuka and Matsumoto introduce main areas of research by more than forty scientists in widely diverse scientific fields, including botany, ecology, pedology, silviculture, mammal ecology, entomology, and ornithology.
Peterken, George F. 1996. Natural woodland: Ecology and conservation in northern temperate regions. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
In this book, Peterken describes dynamics of virgin and old-growth forests in Europe and North America in the absence of human influence, ultimately applying this knowledge to issues of nature conservation in British forests.
Reich, Peter B., and Paul Bolstad. 2001. Productivity of evergreen and deciduous temperate forests. In Terrestrial global productivity. Edited by Jacques Roy, Bernard Saugier, and Hal. A. Mooney, 565–569. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
In this chapter Reich and Bolstad provide extensive data of net primary productivity (NPP) of global deciduous and evergreen temperate forests, with an emphasis on environmental controls on NPP and effects of human alterations.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Accounting for Ecological Capital
- Allocation of Reproductive Resources in Plants
- Animals, Functional Morphology of
- Animals, Reproductive Allocation in
- Animals, Thermoregulation in
- Antarctic Environments and Ecology
- Applied Ecology
- Aquatic Conservation
- Aquatic Nutrient Cycling
- Archaea, Ecology of
- Assembly Models
- Bacterial Diversity in Freshwater
- Benthic Ecology
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
- Biodiversity Patterns in Agricultural Systms
- Biological Chaos and Complex Dynamics
- Biome, Alpine
- Biome, Boreal
- Biome, Desert
- Biome, Grassland
- Biome, Savanna
- Biome, Tundra
- Biomes, African
- Biomes, East Asian
- Biomes, Mountain
- Biomes, North American
- Biomes, South Asian
- Bryophyte Ecology
- Butterfly Ecology
- Carson, Rachel
- Chemical Ecology
- Classification Analysis
- Coastal Dune Habitats
- Communities and Ecosystems, Indirect Effects in
- Communities, Top-Down and Bottom-Up Regulation of
- Community Concept, The
- Community Ecology
- Community Genetics
- Community Phenology
- Competition and Coexistence in Animal Communities
- Competition in Plant Communities
- Complexity Theory
- Conservation Biology
- Conservation Genetics
- Coral Reefs
- Darwin, Charles
- Dead Wood in Forest Ecosystems
- De-Glaciation, Ecology of
- Disease Ecology
- Drought as a Disturbance in Forests
- Early Explorers, The
- Earth’s Climate, The
- Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics
- Ecological Dynamics in Fragmented Landscapes
- Ecological Forecasting
- Ecological Informatics
- Ecological Relevance of Speciation
- Ecology, Microbial (Community)
- Ecology of Emerging Zoonotic Viruses
- Ecosystem Ecology
- Ecosystem Engineers
- Ecosystem Multifunctionality
- Ecosystem Services
- Ecosystem Services, Conservation of
- Elton, Charles
- Endophytes, Fungal
- Energy Flow
- Environmental Justice
- Environments, Extreme
- Ethics, Ecological
- European Natural History Tradition
- Facilitation and the Organization of Communities
- Fern and Lycophyte Ecology
- Fire Ecology
- Food Webs
- Foraging Behavior, Implications of
- Foraging, Optimal
- Forests, Temperate Coniferous
- Forests, Temperate Deciduous
- Freshwater Invertebrate Ecology
- Genetic Considerations in Plant Ecological Restoration
- Genomics, Ecological
- Geographic Range
- Gleason, Henry
- Grazer Ecology
- Greig-Smith, Peter
- Gymnosperm Ecology
- Habitat Selection
- Harper, John L.
- Heavy Metal Tolerance
- Himalaya, Ecology of the
- Host-Parasitoid Interactions
- Human Ecology
- Human Ecology of the Andes
- Hutchinson, G. Evelyn
- Indigenous Ecologies
- Industrial Ecology
- Insect Ecology, Terrestrial
- Introductory Sources
- Invasive Species
- Island Biogeography Theory
- Island Biology
- Kin Selection
- Landscape Dynamics
- Landscape Ecology
- Laws, Ecological
- Legume-Rhizobium Symbiosis, The
- Leopold, Aldo
- Lichen Ecology
- Life History
- Literature, Ecology and
- MacArthur, Robert H.
- Mangrove Zone Ecology
- Marine Fisheries Management
- Mathematical Ecology
- Mating Systems
- Maximum Sustainable Yield
- Metabolic Scaling Theory
- Metacommunity Dynamics
- Metapopulations and Spatial Population Processes
- Microclimate Ecology
- Mutualisms and Symbioses
- Mycorrhizal Ecology
- Natural History Tradition, The
- Networks, Ecological
- Niche Versus Neutral Models of Community Organization
- Nutrient Foraging in Plants
- Odum, Eugene and Howard
- Old Fields
- Ordination Analysis
- Organic Agriculture, Ecology of
- Parental Care, Evolution of
- Pastures and Pastoralism
- Patch Dynamics
- Phenotypic Selection
- Philosophy, Ecological
- Phylogenetics and Comparative Methods
- Physiological Ecology of Nutrient Acquisition in Animals
- Physiological Ecology of Photosynthesis
- Physiological Ecology of Water Balance in Terrestrial Anim...
- Plant Disease Epidemiology
- Plant Ecological Responses to Extreme Climatic Events
- Plant-Insect Interactions
- Polar Regions
- Pollination Ecology
- Population Dynamics, Density-Dependence and Single-Species
- Population Dynamics, Methods in
- Population Ecology, Animal
- Population Ecology, Plant
- Population Fluctuations and Cycles
- Population Genetics
- Population Viability Analysis
- Populations and Communities, Dynamics of Age- and Stage-St...
- Predation and Community Organization
- Predator-Prey Interactions
- Reductionism Versus Holism
- Religion and Ecology
- Remote Sensing
- Restoration Ecology
- Ricketts, Edward Flanders Robb
- Seed Ecology
- Serpentine Soils
- Shelford, Victor
- Simulation Modeling
- Soil Biogeochemistry
- Soil Ecology
- Spatial Pattern Analysis
- Spatial Patterns of Species Biodiversity in Terrestrial En...
- Spatial Scale and Biodiversity
- Species Extinctions
- Species Responses to Climate Change
- Species-Area Relationships
- Stability and Ecosystem Resilience, A Below-Ground Perspec...
- Stoichiometry, Ecological
- Stream Ecology
- Systematic Conservation Planning
- Systems Ecology
- Tansley, Sir Arthur
- Terrestrial Nitrogen Cycle
- Terrestrial Resource Limitation
- Theory and Practice of Biological Control
- Thermal Ecology of Animals
- Tragedy of the Commons
- Trophic Levels
- Tropical Humid Forest Biome
- Vegetation Classification
- Vegetation Mapping
- Weed Ecology
- Whittaker, Robert H.
- Wildlife Ecology