Plants and Animals of the Rainforest
Rainforest Animals and Plants: An Introduction
Life in the rainforest is divided, primarily, into four distinct layers: the emergent layer, the canopy layer, the understory and the forest floor. Different plants and animals live on each layer. In fact, each layer has a distinct look and definition. The emergent layer is the layer of trees that is much higher than the normal level, that of the canopy. Since it is so high, it houses mostly birds and insects. The canopy layer is the layer made of the upper part of the trees. When you look at the rainforest from a distance, the canopy layer covers the entire rainforest making it almost appear as an ocean of green. Many animals live in the canopy layer including birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians and even some mammals (warm-blooded animals that give birth to their young rather than laying eggs). The understory layer is the next layer down. It covers the area between the leaves of trees and the ground. It is cool and dark. Finally, the forest floor layer is the lowest layer of the rainforest. It houses many animals of the rainforest, however, it is the area of the rainforest where the "big animals" of the rainforest usually live. Click on the parrots above to hear their call.
A Little More about Rainforest Animals:
To survive in the rainforest takes much skill when you have hundreds of enemies and competition for food. Rainforest animals use many techniques including hiding, camouflage (walking sticks and sloths), scaring predators(butterflies that appear to have an eye on their wings)and warning colors (monarch butterfly).
There are many animals that call the rainforest home. There are thousands of different types of insects, some that scientists may not even know are alive, yet. Some of the insects that live in the rainforest are the morpho butterfly, the monarch butterfly and the zodiac moth. In addition, there are many birds, big and small. Quetzals, macaws, toucans, parrots, tropical versions of doves, swallows and even hummingbirds call the rainforest home. And that is just the start! Of the reptiles that live in the rainforest, there is the frilled lizard, the carpet python, northern leaf-tailed gecko, anacondas, iguanas, and the coral snake. Once again, that is only a few of the unique residents in the rainforest. Of the amphibians in the rainforest, some of the best known are the frogs. Some of the frogs that can be found in the rainforest are the green tree frog, northern barred frog, red-eyed frog and poison arrow frog. Finally, there are many mammals that call the rainforest home. Some are the jaguar, sloth, monkeys, kangaroos, tigers, chimpanzee, gorillas, shrews and hippopotamus. The animals you find in each location of the rainforest vary greatly. However, these are some possibilities. Below is a red-eyed frog.
Rainforest Plants: An Introduction
The plants in the rainforest are not unlike the animals of the rainforest. They must use adaptations to protect themselves and to stay alive. Some adaptations of rainforest plants are the thickness of their bark, lianas (climbing woody vines that climb to reach sunlight and rain), drip tips (tips of leaves that allow rain to run off very quickly and not harm the plant), buttresses (thick bases of trees that provide the trees with extra strengths since their roots cannot grow as deep in the rainforest soil), prop and stilt roots (above ground roots similar to buttresses that provide extra support), epiphytes (plants that live on the surface of other plants to have access to rain and sunlight), and bromeliads (plants that hold large amounts of water and provide an ecosystem for small plants and animals, the plant benefits by feeding on their waste).
A Little more about Rainforest Plants:
There are many types of rainforest plants that live on different layers, as the picture below shows. Many of the plants have many uses are are things we use in everyday life. Some plants used for building and creating products are bamboo and rubber trees. Some parts and fruits of plants that provide food and spices to us are: banana and plantains, sugar cane, nutmeg and mace, cassava (tapioca), chicle (part of gum), allspice, cocoa (major part of chocolate), vanilla, ginger, pepper, cashew nuts, Brazil nuts, Macadamia nuts, pineapple, cucumber, coffee, tea, avocados, papaya, guava, mango, yams, cinnamon, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, peanuts, sweet potatoes, passion fruit and the coconut. Part of some trees and plants have also been used to create cures for some illnesses and disease. There are thousands of plants and trees in the rainforest and many that scientists have not discovered, yet. Yet, many of these offer a valuable gift to humans that can be harvested without destroying the rainforest. However, the rainforest continues to be destroyed and thousands of plants and trees becoming extinct. What cures and products are we losing daily?