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MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends. The great eastern deciduous forest of North America was once an unbroken swathe of imposing trees that stretched from northern New England to central Florida, and west to the Mississippi River (1). The eastern deciduous forest forms part of one of the major biomes on earth, the temperate deciduous forests (3), which can be found in eastern North America, Europe, China and Japan (3). The eastern deciduous forest is composed of a remarkable diversity of landscapes and ecosystems that differ to some extent in vegetation, soil and wildlife (4). Throughout the eastern deciduous forest, mature trees range in height from 18 to 30 metres (6). Like all temperate forests, the eastern deciduous forest has cold winters, but mild autumns and springs and long, warm summers (1) (3).
The eastern deciduous forest covers almost all of the eastern United States, except for the subtropical vegetation at the southern tip of Florida and an intrusion of grassland known as the prairie peninsula (5).
To the north, the eastern deciduous forest is bound by the coniferous forests of southern Canada, and to the south by the Gulf coast and subtropical forests of southern Florida. More than 110 species of tree occur in the eastern deciduous forest, of which about 75 percent are deciduous (4). The northern hardwood forest, around the Canadian border, is dominated by yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) (6). In the north-central forest region, often known as the beech-maple forest, American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) continue to dominate (2), and can comprise up to 90 percent of the trees (6). The oak-hickory forests are the most common type within the eastern deciduous forest, which is dominated by hickory (Carya species) and a number of oaks including the northern red oak (Quercus rubra) and white oak (Quercus alba) (8), the latter of which enjoys one of the widest ranges of any tree species in eastern North America (6).
In addition to this, hundreds of wildflowers and other herbaceous and woody species blanket the forest floor (4).
Around 43 species of mammal occupy the eastern deciduous forest (4), the majority of which occur in the northern two-thirds of the region. However, larger mammals can also be found in eastern deciduous forest, such as the American black bear (Ursus americanus) striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), northern raccoon (Procyon lotor), and the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) (4). Of the 23 species of reptiles that occur in the eastern deciduous forest, most can be found in the southern two-thirds (4). Around 17 species of amphibians occur in the eastern deciduous forest (4), many of which occur in the southern Appalachian Mountains, which contain an impressive diversity of woodland salamander species found nowhere else in the world (4).
The eastern deciduous forest provides habitat for a wealth of invertebrates (5) from the towering heights of the canopy to the leaf litter-covered forest floor (1). Most of the eastern deciduous forest has been logged, burned or cleared for farming at one point over the last two centuries, so very few areas of primary forest, with its wide-trunked and towering trees, remain (2). Deforestation in eastern North America started in earnest in the 1600s, and migrated westward with agricultural settlement until the mid-1800s (3). With the industrial revolution, and a shift in economies from rural agriculture to urban manufacturing and technology, large areas of agricultural land were abandoned and are slowly reverting back to forests (3).


Chestnut (Castanea species) was once a dominant, and commercially important, tree in the eastern deciduous forest, but has been virtually eliminated in what has been called one the greatest botanical disasters (3) (5). The United States is behind only Costa Rica in the percentage of its land set aside for its citizena€™s use and enjoyment, as national forests, parks, and wildlife refuges (4). Recent studies indicate an increase in forest area in North America, as a result of the abandonment of agricultural land (3), a fantastic first step in a long, slow process.
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Rolling hills characterise most of the area, but some parts are nearly flat and the Appalachian Mountain range, which extends from Labrador in Canada to Alabama in the United States, reaches around 900 metres (7).
It extends from the Atlantic coast as far west as western Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota, south to Texas (6). The Atlantic coast clearly marks the eastern edge, while to the west, a landscape of grassland, prairie and extensive farmland separates the eastern deciduous forest from the largely coniferous forest of the western United States (4).
Two conifers, eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and white pine (Pinus strobus) grow abundantly among the broad-leaved species (6). Most of these are rodents (mice, voles, squirrels), such as the American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus,) and insectivores (shrews and moles) which generally forage on the rich forest floor, and bats, such as the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) which forage in and above the forest canopy (4). Birds of prey, such as the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) soar over the forest searching for food (4), while nuthatches and woodpeckers, such as the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus), forage along tree trunks and large branches, chipping away at the bark in search of food (4).
The common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) and timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) are characteristic reptiles of this region (7). This includes the red-cheeked salamander (Plethodon jordani) which occurs amongst leaf litter on the forested slopes in part of the Appalachian Mountains (11).
Butterflies, moths and their caterpillars, such as the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) (12) and striped hawkmoth (Hyles livornica), provide food for many birds, while the foresta€™s salamanders prey on beetles, other insects and their larvae (1).


Land that was once almost entirely forested, such as Vermont, was more than 80 percent deforested and converted to agriculture (3).
However, numerous threats to the eastern deciduous forest remain, including air pollution (3) and global climate change (4).
The fungal disease a€?chestnut blighta€™ was first detected in 1904, after being bought into the region on Chinese chestnut trees (5).
Around 50 national forests, 122 national wildlife refuges, and 6 major national parks, including the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, occur in the eastern deciduous forest (4), each offering varying degrees of habitat protection. The American Chestnut Foundation has planted hundreds of what it hopes could be blight-resistant seeds. Major biomes include deserts, grasslands, tropical forests and tundra.Coniferousof or relating to conifer trees, which have evergreen, needle-like leaves and bear cones. These green-flagged Materials may be used by End Users, who are individuals or not-for-profit organisations, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use. Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted. To learn about climate change and the species that are affected, visit our climate change pages.
Precipitation is highly variable across this extensive region, but is distributed fairly evenly throughout the year.
In autumn, this region can be the most beautiful, as it turns into a patchwork of reds and oranges (6). The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) may be seen foraging on the ground for acorns, seeds, grains, berries and insects (9), while the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), eastern Americaa€™s sole breeding hummingbird, flits through the forest feeding on nectar (10). By 1930 the disease had spread throughout the range of the American chestnut (5), and to date, an estimated four billion chestnut trees have died (13).
For example, national forests are managed to sustain a healthy ecosystem whilst also addressing peoplea€™s need for resources and services (15), while national parks are restricted from most development, and are focused on animal and environmental protection and human enjoyment (16). They currently appear to be thriving, although whether they are truly blight-resistant will not be known for five years or more (14). Low resolution, watermarked versions of the Material may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. Up to 152 centimetres falls annually in the southern Appalachian Mountains but this drops to less than 76 centimetres where the forest gives way to grassland (5).
Mature chestnut trees became virtually extinct in the 1950s, but as the fungus does not survive in the soil, it does not kill the whole tree, so shoots growing out of decade-old stumps may still be seen (13). If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use. However, very few of these small sprouts live long enough to flower, and so it is just a matter of time before all the small sprouts die out (14).



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