The Physical Environment - Types of Natural Vegetation


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Topic 2: Natural Vegetation:

Topic 2: Natural Vegetation The Physical Environment

The Physical Environment:

The Physical Environment

Chapter 3: Types of Natural Vegetation:

Chapter 3: Types of Natural Vegetation The Physical Environment Textbook: Pages 31 – 56

What is Natural Vegetation?:

What is Natural Vegetation? It refers to plants that grow naturally in a place with little or no human activities.

Natural Vegetation as part of an ecosystem:

Natural Vegetation as part of an ecosystem An ecosystem is a community of living organisms within a physical environment and the interactions between them. Natural vegetation plays an important role in an ecosystem where trees and other plants provide food and shelters for the animals and native people that live in the forest.

Major types of natural vegetation:

Major types of natural vegetation Natural Vegetation can be groped into three major types: Forests, grasslands and deserts which is known as biomes. Biomes is the living (or biotic) part of an ecosystem.

Forest Biomes:

Forest Biomes Tropical Rainforest

Forest Biomes:

Forest Biomes Temperate Deciduous Forest

Forest Biomes:

Forest Biomes Coniferous forest

Tropical Rainforests:

Tropical Rainforests

Where are tropical rainforests found?:

Where are tropical rainforests found? Tropical Rainforests are found in places that experience a tropical equatorial climate about 10ᴼN and 25ᴼS of the equator. These places experience high temperatures (<27ᴼC>) and high rainfall (above 1500 millilitres) throughout the year. They are mainly located in the Amazon Basin in South America, Congo Basin in Africa and parts of Southeast Asia such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

A Climograph of a Tropical Rainforest :

A Climograph of a Tropical Rainforest Climograph shows the average monthly temperature and rainfall.

Tropical Rainforest is divided into 5 distinct layers.:

Tropical Rainforest is divided into 5 distinct layers. 5 distinct layers They are divided into the layers according to their height as shown. As the branches of the trees are at the top, they are able to get sufficient sunlight. The canopy layer are shallow and umbrella-shaped crowns preventing sunlight from penetrating into the lower layers. Undergrowth 0-5m

Leaves :

Leaves Tropical Rainforests are evergreens as the leaves remain green throughout the year. The trees do not shed their leaves at the same time in the year. The leaves of the trees in the tropical rainforest are large and broad to maximise surface area for photosynthesis. Leaf surfaces are waxy, hairy or leathery , with drip tips to allow rainwater to drain off easily.

Slide 16:

Drip Tips Waxy, hairy, leathery << Back to slide

Bark and branches:

Bark and branches In tropical rainforests, the trees have developed thin and smooth barks because there is no need for protection against cold and dry conditions.


Roots The high temperature and rainfall all year round cause the leaf litter to decompose and form humus rapidly, supplying the topsoil. Hence, the roots of the trees in tropical rainforest are shallow and spread widely as they need not reach deep into the soil for water and nutrients. Some tall trees have buttress roots , which are thick and spread out widely to support the great weight of the tree.

Slide 19:

Buttress Roots

Tropical Monsoon Forest:

Tropical Monsoon Forest

Where are Tropical Monsoon Forest found?:

Where are Tropical Monsoon Forest found? Tropical Monsoon Forest are found in the tropics. However, they are only found in places that experience the tropical monsoon climate. The tropical monsoon climate is characterised by high temperatures (<26ᵒC>) and rainfall (over 1 500 millilitres per year), but with distinct wet and dry seasons. Tropical Monsoon forests are therefore located in South Asia, Southeast Asia, southern China and northern Australia. Found mainly between 10ᵒN and 25ᵒN and S of the equator.

A Tropical Monsoon Forest has only 3 distinct layers.:

A Tropical Monsoon Forest has only 3 distinct layers. The lack of water during dry seasons does not allow trees to grow great heights. 25 – 30m 6 – 15m 0 – 5m

Slide 23:

Distribution Climograph of Tropical Monsoon Forest

Leaves :

Leaves The trees in the tropical monsoon forest are deciduous . The leaves are waxy, hairy or leathery with drip tips allowing water to drain off easily during wet season.


Roots The trees have deep roots to tap water sources underground because rainfall is not regular throughout the year.

Tropical Mangroves Forests:

Tropical Mangroves Forests

Where are mangrove forests found?:

Where are mangrove forests found? Mangrove forests or mangroves are found mainly in the areas experiencing the tropical climate, especially along the sheltered coastal regions and places where rivers constantly deposit clay and slit. Between 23.5ᵒN and S of the equator.

Slide 28:

Sheltered Coastal Areas

Structure of Mangroves:

Structure of Mangroves A mangrove forest has three distinct horizontal zones. There are no vertical layers in a mangrove forest.

Slide 30:


Leaves :

Leaves A mangrove forest is evergreen as there are no seasonal changes in the temperature and rainfall in the tropical climate. The leaves are waxy, hairy or leathery with drip tips allowing water to drain off easily during wet season . To enable mangrove trees to grow in saline (salt) water, the leaves are specially adapted to regulate the amount of salt in the tree. Some species such as the Avicennia are salt secretors. They secrete excess salt on their leaves, which are then removed by the wind or rain. While some species such as the Bruguiera , Rhizophora and Sonneratia have ultrafiltrators; they abosorb salt instead of secreting it. They remove the excess salt by storing it in the lod leaves, which then fall off.

Slide 32:

Salt Secretors Salt ultrafiltrators

Flowers and Fruits:

Flowers and Fruits The flowers of mangrove trees are generally colourful. The Bruguiera , for example, has bright red lantern-shaped flowers to attract insects to pollinate flowers.

Temperate Coniferous Forest:

Temperate Coniferous Forest

Where are coniferous forest found?:

Where are coniferous forest found? Coniferous forest are found mainly in places that experience a cool temperate continental climate. This climate is a sub-type of the temperate climate, and is experienced in places in the Northern Hemisphere between 60ᵒN and 70ᵒN of the Equator. These places experience four seasons every year: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. It is found in places like Alaska, Northern Canada, Northern United States of America, Scandinavia (Finland, Norway, Sweden) and Russia.

Slide 37:

Coniferous Forest

Structures :

Structures The Coniferous forest has no distinct layers. They grow tall and generally uniform in height. These trees also grow close together.

Leaves :

Leaves The needle-like leaves have small surface areas that help to reduce water loss due to transpiration.

Flowers and fruits:

Flowers and fruits The trees bear cones, which are part of the trees’ reproductive system.

Bark and Branches:

Bark and Branches The trees have thick barks to protect them from the long, cold winters. They have flexible branches which slope downwards to enable snow to slide off easily. They are usually in conical shape.


Roots Throughout the year, precipitation is low, hence there is little water in the ground. During winter, snow falls instead of rain. Therefore, the trees have shallow, spreading roots which enable them to absorb water easily from the soil surface when the snow melts.

Big Ideas:

Big Ideas Natural Vegetation refers to plants that grow naturally in a place with little or no human activities.

Big Ideas:

Big Ideas Tropical Rainforest, Monsoon, and Mangroves are found in Tropical Climate. While Temperate Coniferous are found in Cool Temperate temperature. Tropical Rainforest: 10ᵒN and S of the equator. Tropical Monsoon Forest: 10ᵒN to 25ᵒN and S of the equator. Tropical Mangroves: 23.3ᵒN and S of the equator. Temperate Coniferous: Northern Hemisphere about 60ᵒN and 70ᵒN.

Big Ideas:

Big Ideas Tropical Rainforest: 5 Vertical Layers Tropical Monsoon: 3 Vertical Layers Tropical Mangroves: 3 Horizontal Zones Temperate Coniferous: Uniform in Height

End of Chapter 3:

End of Chapter 3

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