Cloud forest

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A cloud forest, also called a water forest, primas forest, or tropical montane cloud forest (TMCF), is a generally tropical or subtropical, evergreen, montane, moist forest characterized by a persistent, frequent or seasonal low-level cloud cover, usually at the canopy level, formally described in the International Cloud Atlas (2017) as silvagenitus. Cloud forest_sentence_0

Cloud forests often exhibit an abundance of mosses covering the ground and vegetation, in which case they are also referred to as mossy forests. Cloud forest_sentence_1

Mossy forests usually develop on the saddles of mountains, where moisture introduced by settling clouds is more effectively retained. Cloud forest_sentence_2

Other moss forests include Black Spruce/Feathermoss climax forest, with a moderately dense canopy and a forest floor of feathermosses including Hylocomium splendens, Pleurozium schreberi and Ptilium crista-castrensis. Cloud forest_sentence_3

These weft-form mosses grow in boreal moss forests, and are shaped to allow the needles to fall into them rather than covering them, so they grow over the needles. Cloud forest_sentence_4

Climate Cloud forest_section_0

The presence of cloud forests is dependent on local climate (which is affected by the distance to the sea), the exposition and the latitude (from 23°N to 25°S), and the elevation (which varies from 500 m to 4000 m above sea level). Cloud forest_sentence_5

Typically, there is a relatively small band of elevation in which the atmospheric environment is suitable for cloud forest development. Cloud forest_sentence_6

This is characterized by persistent fog at the vegetation level, resulting in the reduction of direct sunlight and thus of evapotranspiration. Cloud forest_sentence_7

Within cloud forests, much of the moisture available to plants arrives in the form of fog drip, where fog condenses on tree leaves and then drips onto the ground below. Cloud forest_sentence_8

Annual rainfall can range from 500 to 10,000 mm/year and mean temperature between 8 and 20 °C. Cloud forest_sentence_9

While cloud forest today is the most widely used term, in some regions, these ecosystems or special types of cloud forests are called mossy forest, elfin forest, montane thicket, and dwarf cloud forest. Cloud forest_sentence_10

The definition of cloud forest can be ambiguous, with many countries not using the term (preferring such terms as Afromontane forest and upper montane rain forest, montane laurel forest, or more localised terms such as the Bolivian yungas, and the laurisilva of the Atlantic Islands), and occasionally subtropical and even temperate forests in which similar meteorological conditions occur are considered to be cloud forests. Cloud forest_sentence_11

Characteristics Cloud forest_section_1

In comparison with lower tropical moist forests, cloud forests show a reduced tree stature combined with increased stem density and generally the lower diversity of woody plants. Cloud forest_sentence_12

Trees in these regions are generally shorter and more heavily stemmed than in lower-altitude forests in the same regions, often with gnarled trunks and branches, forming dense, compact crowns. Cloud forest_sentence_13

Their leaves become smaller, thicker and harder with increasing altitude. Cloud forest_sentence_14

The high moisture promotes the development of a high biomass and biodiversity of epiphyte, particularly bryophytes, lichens, ferns (including filmy ferns), bromeliads and orchids. Cloud forest_sentence_15

The number of endemic plants can be very high. Cloud forest_sentence_16

An important feature of cloud forests is the tree crowns can intercept the wind-driven cloud moisture, part of which drips to the ground. Cloud forest_sentence_17

This fog drip occurs when water droplets from the fog adhere to the needles or leaves of trees or other objects, coalesce into larger drops and then drop to the ground. Cloud forest_sentence_18

It can be an important contribution to the hydrologic cycle. Cloud forest_sentence_19

Due to the high water content of the soil, the reduced solar radiation and the low rates of decomposition and mineralization, the soil acidity is very high, with more humus and peat often forming the upper soil layer. Cloud forest_sentence_20

Stadtmüller (1987) distinguishes two general types of tropical montane cloud forests: Cloud forest_sentence_21

Cloud forest_unordered_list_0

  • Areas with a high annual precipitation due to a frequent cloud cover in combination with heavy and sometimes persistent orographic rainfall; such forests have a perceptible canopy strata, a high number of epiphytes, and a thick peat layer which has a high storage capacity for water and controls the runoff;Cloud forest_item_0_0
  • In drier areas with mainly seasonal rainfall, cloud stripping can amount to a large proportion of the moisture available to plants.Cloud forest_item_0_1

Distribution of tropical montane cloud forests Cloud forest_section_2

Only 1% of the global woodland consists of cloud forests. Cloud forest_sentence_22

They previously comprised an estimated 11% of all tropical forests in the 1970s. Cloud forest_sentence_23

A total of around 736 cloud forest sites have been identified in 59 countries by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, with 327 of them legally protected areas as of 2002. Cloud forest_sentence_24

Important areas of cloud forest are in Central and South America (mainly Costa Rica, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia), East and Central Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, and in the Caribbean. Cloud forest_sentence_25

The 1997 version of the World Conservation Monitoring Centre's database of cloud forests found a total of 605 tropical montane cloud forest sites in 41 countries. Cloud forest_sentence_26

280 sites, or 46% of the total, were located in Latin America, known in biogeography as the Neotropical realm. Cloud forest_sentence_27

Twelve countries had tropical montane cloud forest sites, with the majority in Venezuela (64 sites), Mexico (64), Ecuador (35) and Colombia (28). Cloud forest_sentence_28

Southeast Asia and Australasia had 228 sites in 14 countries – 66 in Indonesia, 54 in Malaysia, 33 in Sri Lanka, 32 in the Philippines, and 28 in Papua New Guinea. Cloud forest_sentence_29

97 sites were recorded in 21 African countries, mostly scattered on isolated mountains. Cloud forest_sentence_30

Of the 605 sites, 264 were in protected areas. Cloud forest_sentence_31

Temperate cloud forests Cloud forest_section_3

Although far from being universally accepted as true cloud forests, several forests in temperate regions have strong similarities with tropical cloud forests. Cloud forest_sentence_32

The term is further confused by occasional reference to cloud forests in tropical countries as "temperate" due to the cooler climate associated with these misty forests. Cloud forest_sentence_33

Distribution of temperate cloud forests Cloud forest_section_4

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: forest.