The Characteristics of the Tropical Scrub Forest Biome

Sunset on the tropical scrub forest landscape in Kenya
••• Anup Shah/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Tropical scrub forest is one of the biomes that make up aridland. This type of biome also consists of desert and areas of low-lying, dense underbrush. It is an area of little precipitation, plenty of continuous winds, poor drainage and medium to poor soil quality. The plants and animals of the tropical scrub forest have adapted to flourish in this harsh environment.


A dry valley in California
••• Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Tropical scrub forests, or chaparral as they are referred to in California, are found across the southern United States, along the Mediterranean coastline, in north and central Africa and within the interior of Australia. Average annual rainfall is only 2 to 9 inches, and the temperature fluctuates very little, averaging near 64 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. Virtually all tropical scrub forest is found in the same equatorial region, and temperatures fluctuate little regardless of season.


An oak tree in an arid grassland
••• Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Vegetation in the tropical scrub biome has adapted to arid conditions. Plants typically have thick, waxy leaves that have developed to store moisture. Trees that grow in this biome include hardwoods such as oaks and varieties of both deciduous and evergreen trees such as olives and cedars. Flowering shrubs such as manzanita grow into dense evergreen thickets. Summers are dry, and most plants are dormant until the winter rains.


A camel`s ability to store water is an example of animal adaptation in dry conditions.
••• Sam Robinson/Photodisc/Getty Images

Like the vegetation of the region, the local animals have adapted to the harsh, dry conditions of the tropical scrub forest. Most mammals are small and nocturnal, able to change their body temperature rapidly and take advantage of the cool night temperatures. Other nocturnal and burrowing animals of this biome include snakes, lizards and small rodents. Many small animals have also evolved with longer legs and high agility to facilitate movement along shifting and hot soil.


Other features of the tropical scrub biome are related to precipitation and evaporation. The soil of the tropical scrub biome is porous and light, unable to retain moisture or provide drainage. Irrigation is often ineffective in the long term due to high evaporation levels. Plants grow thick and low to the ground, equipped with extensive root systems that are designed to seek and store water. Some plants have even evolved the ability to absorb the moisture of the nighttime mist.

Related Articles

How Does Altitude Affect Vegetation?
The Characteristics of a Humid, Tropical Climate
Tundra Trees
What Major Landforms Are in the Biome Taiga?
What are the Different Kinds of Land Called?
The Characteristics of a Humid, Tropical Climate
What Are Some Flowers Found in the Taiga?
What are the Six Major Climate Regions?
What Climate Is Landlocked and Gets Little Precipitation?
Tropical Desert Animals & Plants
Abiotic Factors of a Desert Ecosystem
The Trophic Levels in Rain Forests
Characteristics of the Grassland
Where Are the Temperate Zones Located?
Climate in Temperate Grasslands
What Is a Semi-Arid Climate?
Plant Adaptations in the Tundra
Plants & Animals in Deciduous Forests
The Biotic Factors for Alpine Tundra
Plants & Animals in the Taiga Biome
Types of Animals in the Temperate Woodland & Shrubland