Tropical Rainforest Notes

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Tropical Rainforest
The tropical rainforest is the most biodiverse and productive biome on our planet but the
most fragile. They are the most productive biome with a net primary production of 2,200
Rainforests cover only 6 % of the Earth's surface but
yet they contain more than 1/2 of the world's plant
and animal species.
Tropical rainforests are located in a band around the
equator (0° latitude), mostly in the area between the
Tropic of Cancer (23.5° N latitude) and the Tropic of
Capricorn (23.5° S latitude).
The largest rainforests are in Brazil (South America),
Zaire (Africa) and Indonesia (South East Asia)
Tropical Rainforests have a layered structure. Different amounts of sunlight reach the
different levels of vegetation.
The shrub layer is nearest the ground at around 10m
high. Only 5% of direct light reaches this layer so shrubs
have very large, broad leaves to absorb as much of the
available light as they can.
Trees in the undercanopy layer are about half the height
of the canopy layer
The canopy layer is a continuous layer of trees around
30m high. It absorbs about 80% of incident light (direct
light that hits the leaves) and shades the rest of the
The tallest trees are called emergents. They can reach
around 40m and poke out of the main canopy layer. They have straight trunks and widely spaced
branches only at their crown where most light reaches them. This makes them look umbrella-shaped.
The emergents receive the most direct light of all the layers in the rainforest.

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This is a result of the heating of part of the
Tropical Rainforests have distinctive climates.…read more

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As many as 30 million species of plants and animals live in tropical rainforests. They have the
highest biodiversity and are believed to contain half the worlds gene pool.
Plants (Flora)
Plants are adapted to the heavy rainfall - they have thick, waxy
leaves with pointed tips (called drip-tips). These channel water so
it runs off quickly to prevent fungi and bacteria growing on the
Some plants e.g.…read more

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Camouflage is an important way of avoiding predation for some animals e.g. leaf-tailed geckos are
the same colour and texture as tree bark. Predators are also camouflaged to help them hunt e.g.
tigers' stripes make them less visible in the shadows
Some animals are adapted to the low light conditions in the undercanopy. Tapirs and anteaters have
excellent sense of hearing and smell, so they can detect predators without seeing them.
Many rainforest animals can swim.…read more


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