What is a Temperate Deciduous Woodland?
Deciduous woodlands contain trees with broad leaves such as oak, beech and elm. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the autumn. They are mostly found in the mid-latitudes, between 40° and 60° north and south of the Equator e.g. Europe, New Zealand, Japan and the USA. They occur in places with high rainfall, warm summers and cooler winters. Like all ecosystems, they have distinctive abiotic (non-living) and biotic (living) features.
The climate in the deciduous woodland is temperate, which means there are no extremes of temperature or rainfall. Typically, there are four seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter. Summer has the longest daylight hours and highest temperatures, averaging 15-17°C. Winter is the coolest season, with temperatures rarely dipping below 0°C. Rainfall is usually high, above 1000mm a year. Rainfall occurs throughout the year.
The mild, wet climate leads to fallen leaves decomposing quite quickly. Decayed organic matter forms a thick layer of humous which enriches the soil. Earthworms and other organisms in the soil mix the humus with minerals from weathered rock to form brown earth, a rich fertile soil.
Rain falls throughout the year. This supplies water to lakes, streams and rivers.
Tall, broad-leaved trees dominate deciduous woodlands. The trees form three distinct layers with smaller, share-tolerant plants thriving under the main canopy. Find out more about the structure of the deciduous woodland.
The layers of vegetation in the deciduous woodland provide a range of habitats for animals. The forest floor is home to burrowing animals such as foxes and rabbits. Animals such as birds, insects and small mammals such as dormice and squirrels live in trees.
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