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Animals that live in a European woodland Woodlands are found in parts of the world that have a temperate climate, with warm summers but cool winters. In western Europe, the eastern USA and eastern Asia, woodland is mainly deciduous. Substantial areas of woodland have now vanished, to be replaced by farmland and cities. The trees and plants that grow in woodlands provide food and shelter for many different kinds of animal. Many of them are nocturnal: they come out only at night to feed on plants or to hunt other animals. The seasons have a great effect on woodland life. At the onset of of winter, the trees lose their leaves, many birds fly away to warmer lands and some animals hibernate. Until spring returns, animals must survive on stores of nuts and seeds, by feeding on the ever-present lice and worms in the soil, or by hunting other animals.

Deciduous woodland in summer, Parkhill, New Forest. The trees are a mixture of beech and oak.
Animals and plants of the woodland floor

The woodland floor

Unlike the dense roof of a tropical rainforest, the canopy of a deciduous wood lets some light reach the woodland floor, creating a layer of thick, varied ground vegetation. In damp areas, rich green moss coats the trees. During autumn, fallen leaves build up into a thick layer on the ground, providing insects, worms and small mammals with a warm hibernation site. There is always danger, however, from digging predators such as foxes. In the spring, insects and other invertebrates feed on the leaf litter, breaking it down into nutrients in the soil, where it is taken up by growing plants.

In the autumn, daylight hours become fewer and fewer. This gives deciduous trees the signal to stop producing chlorophyll, a green pigment in their leaves that converts sunlight into chemical energy. The leaves take on a range of brilliant colours—reds, oranges, yellows and browns—before eventually falling off.

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