• Forests are one of the major types of natural vegetation. There are various kinds of forests depending upon the topography and climate. Tropical Deciduous Forests are one of the kinds.
  • Deciduous forest refers to those forests which are characterized by trees that shed their leaves annually. Plants such as mosses, herbs, and ferns are found in these forests.
  • Deciduous forests are found mostly in North America, Europe, and Asia. Different types of deciduous forests include temperate deciduous forests, the tropical and subtropical deciduous forests.
  • The Indian vegetation is mostly consisting of tropical deciduous forests. These forests are found in regions receiving rainfall between 200 cm and 70 cm. The tropical deciduous forests shed their leaves for about 1.5 to 2 months before winter.

Tropical Deciduous Forests

  • “Monsoon forests” is another name for Tropical Deciduous Forests. These are the most widespread forests of India. They are found in the larger part of India, Northern Australia, and Central America.
  • Almost 65-66% of the total forest cover area is a tropical deciduous forest in India. Since India is a tropical country, tropical deciduous forests are likely to be widespread in India. Due to the geographical location of our country, it experiences very different climatic conditions and thus it supports a wide range of natural vegetation in India.
  • Tropical deciduous forests are more likely to be found in areas or regions which receive plenty of rainfall for a part of the year and the other half is followed by a dry climate. This supports their growth. Tropic regions suit their desired climatic conditions so they are found mostly in these regions.
  • In India, these forest types are found in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and in some parts of Maharashtra as well.
  • Trees of this forest type shed their leaves in the dry season(mostly autumn) though some trees which grow on moist sites have access to some amount of water so they remain green. Trees shed their leaves to conserve water during the dry season. This is the reason they are called monsoon forests.
  • However, the forests receive huge precipitation during the other half of the year that is during the summer as a result of which the trees and plants of tropical deciduous forests remain green and dense.
  • When we compare tropical deciduous forests with tropical evergreen forests the density of canopy found in the evergreen forest is comparatively higher than the density of canopy in deciduous forest. Canopy layers enable the sunlight to reach a ground level which in turn facilitates the growth of the trees. During the dry season trees and plants try to use underground water. These changes in the availability of water affect plants and animals of tropical deciduous forests.
  • Due to these varying climatic changes, many endemic species have adapted themselves to these extreme climatic conditions and many of these species show adaptations to this difficult climate-changing pattern. Tropical deciduous forests are less biologically diverse than tropical evergreen forests. Tropical deciduous forests are the most dominant forests in India.
  • Tropical Deciduous Forests are found around the world as well. They are found in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Southwest Africa, French Guiana and Northeast and south-eastern Brazil, southern Mexico.
Tropical Deciduous Forests in India

Flora & Fauna in Tropical Deciduous Forests

  • Sal, teak, neem, and shisham are some of the hardwood trees found in these forests. Furniture, transport, and construction materials are made of hardwood trees. Peepal, Khair, sandalwood, mulberry, cane, Arjun, bamboo, mahua, Kusum, and amla as well are found in these forest types.
    • These species are overexploited for their high economic value by humans. These forests are also cleared for carrying out some agricultural activities.
  • Tigers, lions, elephants, langurs, deer, bears, tortoises, snakes, and monkeys are the common animals found in this forest type.

Types of Tropical Deciduous Forests

  • On the basis of precipitation and availability of water they are further divided into two types
    • Moist Deciduous Forests: 
      • Moist Deciduous Forests are found in the regions which receive rainfall between 200-100cm annually. Mean annual temperature is around 24°C or 27°C and relative humidity is around 60%-75% which favors this kind of vegetation.
      • Out of total percentage around 37% is covered by Moist Deciduous Forests.
      • In dry summer the trees of this forest-types shed their leaves for about six to eight weeks. These are two layered forests and dry lands which are found mostly in between the forests.
      • These forest-types are found in eastern slopes of western Ghats and the Chota Nagpur plateau in India.
        • Other than these regions they are found in the states of Jharkhand, West Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, North-eastern States along the foothills of Himalaya and in some parts of Andaman and Nicobar island.
    • Dry Deciduous Forests: 
      • Dry Deciduous Forests are found in the areas receiving rainfall between 70cm-100cm annually. Wet margin of the dry deciduous forests merge into the moist deciduous forests and dry margins merge into the thorn type vegetation.
      • Out of total percentage covered by tropical deciduous forests around 28% is covered by dry deciduous forests.
      • The trees and plants of this forest-type shed their leaves in dry season to conserve water.
      • This type of forests are found in North India and Southern regions of Deccan plateau.
        • They are found in plains of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and north-eastern parts of or rainier parts of peninsular plateau as well. These are open stretches.

Geographical Location

  • Tropical deciduous forests occur in drier areas north and south of the tropical rainforest belt, south or north of the subtropical deserts, generally in two bands: one between 10° and 20°N latitude and the other between 10° and 20°S latitude.
    • The most diverse dry forests in the world occur in southern Mexico and in the Bolivian lowlands.
    • The dry forests of the Pacific Coast of northwestern South America support a wealth of unique species due to their dry climate.
Forests Types

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