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The Forest Community


Forest communities are much more than just an assembly of trees. They are an extremely complex, interacting, and coordinated system.  In fact you may have heard the word ecosystem.  "Eco" refers to the environment, in this case a forest, and "system" refers to the numerous interacting units (e.g. trees, soil, insects, birds, and man).  It is difficult to imagine a more complex  designed system than a forest ecosystem.

Explore food webs and biodiversity. (will open in a new window)

Aquatic food webs (material contributed by Jennifer Rogers, student presenter)


Scientists have spent their entire lifetimes trying to understand even a small part of forest ecosystems. Forest ecosystems are extremely diverse, ranging from dry desert shrub land to large temperate rain forests.  Scientists have categorized  forest ecosystems  in North America by placing them into biomes.  Biomes are broad categories of natural plant communities.  To learn more about the biomes found in North America click here- BIOMES.


  • Forest cover types are recognized by the Society of American Foresters. They refer to very specific combinations and proportions of trees and shrubs.



    1. What in the forest community helps to decompose fallen woody material?
    2. What is succession?
    3. What are four species that depend on forest watersheds?
    4. What are three types of freshwater organisms besides grazers that are found in freshwater ecosystems?
    5. Name one insect that effects forest populations by defoliating and killing trees.
    6. What activity is both the Kirtland warbler and its habitat of jack pine forsts dependent upon for survival?

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