Tropical vegetation is any vegetation in tropical latitudes. Plant life that occurs in climates that are warm year-round is in general more biologically diverse that in other latitudes. Some tropical areas may receive abundant rain the whole year round, but others have long dry seasons which last several months and may vary with geographic location. These seasonal droughts have great impact on the vegetation.
Plant species native to the tropics found in tropical ecosystems are known as tropical plants. Some examples of tropical ecosystem are the Madagascar dry deciduous forests, the eastern Madagascar rainforests, the broadleaf forests of the Thai highlands and the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico.
The term 'Tropical vegetation' often is used in the sense of lush and luxuriant, but not all the vegetation of the tropics could be adequately defined as such. Despite their lush appearance, often the soils of tropical forests are low in nutrient content making them quite vulnerable to slash-and-burn deforestation techniques, which are sometimes an element of shifting cultivation agricultural systems. Tropical vegetation may include the following habitat types:
- Tropical rainforest. Tropical rainforest ecosystems include significant areas of biodiversity, often coupled with high species endemism. Rainforests are home to half of all the living animal and plant species on the planet and roughly two-thirds of all flowering plants can be found in rainforests. The most representative are the Borneo rainforest, one of the oldest rainforests in the world, the Brazilian and Venezuelan Amazon Rainforest, as well as the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan rainforests.
- Tropical moist broadleaf forests. These usually receive high rainfall, averaging more than 1000 mm, throughout the year. They include the Congolian forests, a broad belt of highland tropical moist broadleaf forest which extends across the basin of the Congo River.
- Tropical dry broadleaf forests. These are territories with a forest cover that is not very dense and that often includes bamboo and teak such as in the Phi Pan Nam Range in Thailand and Laos. They are affected by seasonal dry periods and, though less biologically diverse than rainforests, tropical dry forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife.
- Tropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands They are spread over a large area of the tropics with a vegetation made up mainly of low shrubs and grasses such as in the Western Zambezian grasslands in Zambia and Angola, as well as the Einasleigh upland savanna in Australia. Tree species such as Acacia and baobab may be present in these ecosystems depending from the region.
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- 2006-01-13, Sciencedaily: Deep-rooted Plants Have Much Greater Impact On Climate Than Experts Thought
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- Facts about the world's tropical rainforests from The Nature Conservancy
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- Types of rainforests
- "WWF - Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forest Ecoregions". Wwf.panda.org. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
- WWF - Grasslands