Found predominantly in North and Central America, these tropical regions experience low levels of precipitation and moderate variability in temperature. Tropical and Subtropical Coniferous Forests are characterized by diverse species of conifers, whose needles are adapted to deal with the variable climatic conditions.
Many migratory birds and butterflies spend winter in tropical and subtropical conifer forests. These biomes feature a thick, closed canopy which blocks light to the floor and allows little underbrush. As a result, the ground is often covered with fungi and ferns. Shrubs and small trees compose a diverse understory.
Mexico harbors the world's richest and most complex subtropical coniferous forests. The conifer forests of the Greater Antilles contain many endemics and relictual taxa. Subtropical conifer forests of Indochina are incorporated into the dry and moist forests of the region.
Considerable local endemism and beta diversity occurs in some ecoregions in invertebrates, understory plants, and lichens, particularly in moister forests or on unusual soils; some larger vertebrates and dominant tree species may have widespread ranges; may have extremely floras; altitudinal specialization occurs.
Disturbance regimes such as fire, windthrow, and epizootics can vary considerably within this major habitat type, but the extremes are typically of sufficient size and frequency as to make small patches of natural forest have only limited conservation value; many species highly specialized on late-successional forests; larger carnivores very wide-ranging with large home ranges; some species track resources that vary widely in space in time (e.g., epizootic outbreaks, fire events, cone production) requiring large natural landscapes.
Sensitivity to Disturbance
Larger carnivores highly sensitive to human activities including low intensity hunting; large number of species highly sensitive to logging and fragmentation of natural forests, particularly late-successional species; late-successional species and features typically regenerate slowly; many temperate forests require periodic fires to maintain successional processes and many species; exotic species can have extensive and significant impacts on natural forest communities.