This volume, which is based upon years of research effort and numerous meetings by a large number of scientists throughout the world, brings together different 'schools' of ecological investigation of woodlands. After a description of the structure and floristic composition of the research sites, involving a comparison of boreal, temperate, Mediterranean and tropical forest, the study goes on to consider the dynamic aspects of the woodland formation. These include growth and succession, carbon dioxide balance, water relations, soil processes and chemical cycling. Further chapters discuss comparative productivity, biomass and carbon metabolism. Forest growth and water balance are investigated using complex ecosystem models and the predictive value of such models is tested against observations.