Typically, deciduous woodlands have a temperate climate and are associated with shade tolerant plants as well as broad leaved trees. This type of woodland features neutral, rich soils that have a defined canopy comprised of tree limbs which are on straight branches coupled by diverse herbaceous layer and shrub layer where the most predominant plant is the fern.
Because of the climate in which this type of forest is found, there is growth for half a year which is followed by cool winters. During winter, the leaves are shed and the period is not suitable for photosynthesis and poses possible water problems. The deciduous woodlands display vertical vegetation layering such that there are up to four zones or layers visible. Ideally, these include the following:
- Canopy layer-In temperate woods and there are only a couple of species present. There is one or two dominant species such as the oak. Trees that make up the canopy determine the kind of microclimate in the region. There are also different species that have different effects especially in regard the light intensity they allow through
- Shrub layer-This is comprised of small trees that cannot reach the canopy such as the hazel but which thrives in semi shade which is produced by canopy layer. There are young trees which have a low photosynthesis rate and which produce no fruits and fewer leaves. Energy produced is used by the trees for purposes of reaching the light and growing taller.
- Field layer-This is comprised of plants that grow up to a meter and the layer shows the greatest species diversity. Competition is also high among different kinds of species
- Ground layer-This refers to species that live close to the surface of the soil for instance liverworts and mosses. During mid-summer, little light reaches this region.
Each of the layers mentioned above is stratified further and especially the field layer. Stratification of root system often occurs underground. The top layer or canopy of the deciduous woodlands is dominated by American beech, white birch, sugar maple and yellow birch.
Deciduous woodlands are also home to different kinds of animals which include chipmunk, white tailed deer, snowshoe hair, red squirrel and deer mouse. Some of the bird species found in the woodlands include, rose-breasted grosbeak, warblers, red-eyed vireo, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, warbler’s ovenbird and fly catchers. Note that canopy feeding insects in this biome are very important in the food web while wood frogs, toads, maritime garter snakes and salamanders are also found on the floor of the woodlands.
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