Knowing which plants and animals commonly inhabit forests could make woodland walks more interesting and satisfying and improve your understanding of the world. The variety of forest flora and fauna found in tree-dense areas depends very much on the type of forest and what part of the world it is in.
Deciduous Forest Plants and Animals
People in the U.S. are most familiar with deciduous forests, as these are commonplace in the eastern states as well as across Europe and parts of Asia. Deciduous forests grow in areas with temperate climates, so animals and plants that live there are adapted for colder conditions.
Deciduous Forest Animals
Some of the creatures that inhabit deciduous forests include brown and black bears, foxes, raccoons and grey squirrels. Insects and arachnids are also quite common in these forests an include many species of spiders, ants, ticks, beetles, and more.
Many tree-dwelling animals call this forest home like nesting birds, birds of prey like red-tailed hawks, chipmunks, owls, and woodpeckers.
The trees lose their leaves in the fall and, depending on where in the world the forest lies, may include species such as red and white oak, yellow buckeye, white basswood, American beech and white ash. Smaller plants include Dutchman's breeches, sassafras and redbud.
Rainforests grow in the areas around the equator including Central and South America, Africa, southern Asia and Australia. The climate in these places is very hot and humid and the animals and plants that live there have adapted to these conditions. Although the rainforests only cover 6 percent of Earth's surface, over half of all the species of fauna and flora in the world live there.
Tropical Rainforest Animals
Just a few of the animals inhabiting rainforests include boa constrictors, spider monkeys, toucans, gorillas, jaguars, sloths and macaws. Frogs, snakes and insects are also abundant in these tropical climates.
Tropical Rainforest Plants
Most of the trees in the rainforest form a thick canopy that blocks almost all of the sunlight from reaching the forest floor. For example, the Kapok tree can reach up to 200 feet tall. The rubber tree, the ramon tree, and custard apple trees are some of the giants of the rainforest.
Because of the blocked sunlight, many plants in the rainforest are vines or plants that grow up the taller trees. Plants of the rainforest include strangler figs, which grow up trees and wrap around them until they die, vines called lianas, orchids and passionflowers.
Temperate rainforests are not as widespread as their tropical counterparts. They grow in some parts of New Zealand and Chile, but are most common on the northwest coast of North America, from southern Alaska to California.
Temperate Rainforest Animals
Animals that inhabit these areas include coyotes, deer and bears as well as blue grouse and another bird called Clark's nutcracker.
Temperate Rainforest Plants
Coniferous trees like western red cedar, mountain hemlock, lodgepole pine and Douglas fir are common here. Other plants include the Indian paintbrush and various mosses and lichens.
Boreal Forest Plants and Animals
Boreal forests exist in North America, Europe and Asia. The climate is cold with heavy snowfall, which affects which animals and plants live there.
Boreal Forest Animals
Animals that live in these areas include elk, snowshoe hares, porcupines, bobcats and amur tigers.
Boreal Forest Plants
Coniferous trees are the dominant species, including pines, larches, hemlocks, spruces and firs. This is likely because of their durability and their ability to thrive in harsher climates like a snow-heavy boreal forest. Various forms of mosses and lichens also grow in boreal forests.
- Springfield Public Schools: Deciduous Forest Biome
- Virginia Tech: Temperate Deciduous Forest Biome
- Marietta College: The Temperate Deciduous Forest
- California Institute of Technology: Where are the Rainforests
- California Institute of Technology: What is a Rainforest
- California Institute of Technology: Animals of the Rainforest