Found along the natural ridges of relict distributaries (bayous) and on cheniers (former beach ridges) near the coast, upland forests are characterized mostly by their tree canopy, sub-canopy, and shrub layer.

The upland forest floor receives very little sunlight requiring the species along the forest floor to be very shade tolerant. Much of these formerly vast forests were cleared for agricultural and urban development long ago as they represented the highest ground available. This “highest ground” was the last place to flood during periods of heavy rainfall or strong southerly winds. Historically, upland forests also dominated many of the barrier islands that exist today.

Image: Upland Forests
Tree composition varies with topography, but include live oak, southern magnolia, American elm, hackberry, water oak, and sweetgum. Armadillo, rabbit, deer, squirrel, raccoon, opossum, and skunk, as well as bear, can be found in this habitat. Some of the many bird species utilizing this habitat include turkey, quail, Swainson’s thrushes, yellow-throated vireos, scarlet tanagers, painted buntings, Baltimore orioles, many species of warblers, as well as many others.