Ecological Research

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 185-200

First online:

Forest ecosystems of east and southeast Asia in a global perspective

  • Tatuo KiraAffiliated withLake Biwa Research Institute

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Owing to the influence of the Tibeto-Himalayan Highland, the east-and southeastcoastal zone of the Asian continent lacks the subtropical dry belt, which elsewhere in the world separates temperate forest areas from the humid tropics. Thus forest climates with sufficient rainfall cover coastal areas of the Western Pacific from subarctic eastern Siberia to equatorial SE Asia, giving rise to a sequence of five forest formations. The warmtemperate evergreen (lucidophyll) forest formation is peculiar to this region and represents the east-coast counterpart of Mediterranean sclerophyll forest, which develops under the west-coast climate with a different pattern of seasonal rainfall distribution.

The characteristics of the five formations and their latitudinal distribution were briefly described as being related to climatic environments. Certain ecosystem properties such as floristic diversity and the rate of organic matter decomposition were found to be very sensitive to thermal gradients, whereas the responses of plant biomass, primary productivity, etc. to changes in thermal climate were less apparent.

Key words

East Asia Ecosystem functions Forest zones Thermal climate Western Pacific