Tropical Forests

  • Rodolfo Dirzo
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 152)


Tropical forests are one of the most prominent terrestrial biomes on earth, estimated to have originally covered 1.4 billion ha (Reid 1992). Tropical forests generally occur in frost-free regions between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, in areas of relatively high precipitation. Holdridge’s life zones system (Holdridge 1967), which is a commonly used vegetation classification protocol, distinguishes numerous kinds of tropical forests based on biocli-matic factors. Other systems (e.g., Miranda and Hernández-X 1963) classify tropical forests based on their physiognomy (e.g., height of the trees) and phenological patterns (e.g., proportion of trees that maintain their foliage throughout the year). Other systems classify tropical forests in very simple terms based on the precipitation they receive as wet, moist, and dry. In the most rigorous of these latter systems, humid tropical forests are defined as those that occur in areas where annual rainfall exceeds potential evapotranspiration for the year.


Species Richness Tropical Forest Life Form Forest Fragment Tropical Rain Forest 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

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  • Rodolfo Dirzo

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