Wet Sclerophyll forests
What is a Wet Sclerophyll forest?
Wet Sclerophyll forest is also known as tall open-forest and is unique to Australia. It is a multi-storyed habitat, characterised by a tall, open tree canopy and an understorey of shrubs, fern and herbs. Many understorey plants are rainforest species or have close rainforest relatives. Moisture and soil are important characteristics of this habitat to maintain the growth of the tall eucalypts. The wet sclerophyll forest is a complex living system, yet this whole system is a dynamically balanced natural environment if not interrupted.
While eucalypts tower over other forest trees, competition is fierce as young gums battle for sunlight with pioneering rainforest species. Tall Eucalypts dominate the canopy and include blue gums, mahoganies, peppermints and green-leaved ashes. Wet sclerophyll forests are highly combustible and susceptible to fire,
Wet sclerophyll forests have the following features:
- Tall eucalypt trees
- Mid-storey trees
- Dense ferny understorey and deep, damp litter.
High forest canopy that produces a high volume of leaves. Top-storey fauna are flyers or climbers such as Koalas, Brushtail possums, Fruit bats and variety of bird species.
Below the canopy and where many hollows and comfortable forks exist making comfortable homes for many species.
The clear mid-storey provides arboreal animals with lots of different food sources such as nectar, flowers, leaves and fruits of the canopy and utilise hollows and forks as shelter.
Height above ground level provides protection from many predators, but no assurance from is monitor lizards and birds of prey, such as falcons, goshawks, eagles and large owls.
The understory contains dense-growing shrubs and grasses, sheltered from the sun and wind and comprises a deep litter layer over moist mineral soil.
This is the place small herbivores call home to consume fallen fruit, seeds, leaves and fungi in the damp litter. Many invertebrates live by tunnelling and foraging in the litter; these provide a food source for both vertebrates and predatory invertebrates.