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The Rainforest Ecosystem

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“In an average year in a tropical rain forest, the climate is very humid because of all the rainfall, which amounts to about 250 cm per year” (“Discover The Rainforest “, 2011). The rain forest has large amounts of rain because it is very hot and wet. Tropical rainforests are defined by rainfall. They would not survive without it. Not all rain forests have tropical sunny weather. “Subtropical rainforests that lay outside of the tropics have seasonal changes in their weather there is a little difference between the warmest and the coolest months. The relative humidity is always high” (“Rainforest Climate”,2001).

The result of all of this rain is that the rainforest is filled from top to bottom with green vegetation. In more recent years government has recognized that we need to protect the planet’s remaining forests. We not only have to stop climate change from getting worse, but also we must ensure that the rainforest’s can withstand the impacts of impending global warming. Rainforests are very thick and dense with trees. Some rainforests do not have that many trees. The rainforests that do have a lot of trees create a thick layer of protection with their leaves from the sun.

This is called a “tropical ceiling” also know as a canopy or umbrella. When this happens it is hard for the sunlight to reach the plants under the trees so they won’t grow or benefit from the suns rays to get energy. Transpiration occurs when these trees prevent water from getting to the leaves of plants. Because of the canopy effect there is moisture and coolness underneath. Sunlight gives the big trees enough energy to grow to great heights. “The forest floor is made up of moss, fungi, and decaying plant matter that has fallen from the upper layers. (Harris, 2001) Insects are prominent because they can fly, climb, or jump from to tree to tree.

They also feed off the few plants that grow on the floor. Insects will pick up seeds on the way and drop them elsewhere. There are some birds that will the insects and also fruit from the trees. Monkeys live in the trees and feed off fruits. There are also big cats that feed off other animals such as a wild pig. When these animals die and decompose, they contribute to the soil of the ground for the trees. Thermodynamics spread through the rainforest through the sunlight and the food web mentioned above.

The Hydrologic Cycle contains evaporation, precipitation, groundwater, seepage, surface runoff, and transpiration. An excellent example of the water cycle is the Amazon Rainforest. While some locations of the Amazon rainforest close to Iquitos, Peru do not appear to have a very articulate wet and dry season, most locations of the rainforest do. “Dry seasons are usually defined as a month where there is fewer than four inches of rainfall in a certain month”(Kricher, 1997). The rainy season changes throughout the tropics with respect to the month in which begins, the period of the season and the intensity.

During the rainy season the days are usually cloudy with ceasing rain throughout the day, the heaviest rains, happens in the late afternoons and evenings. In the dry season the sun can shine for up to ten hours a day, even though there is sometimes a shower in the afternoon. “Rainforests take in so much of the earth’s carbon dioxide that scientists call them carbon sinks, and the biggest carbon sink in the world today is the Amazon Basin Rainforest Ecosystem (ABRE), and deforestation is changing the carbon dioxide absorbing capabilities of the ABRE” (“Project Amazonia: Characterization – Abiotic – Nutrient Cycles”, 2002).

These growing temperatures have a broad effect on the rainforest. Some of the survival characteristics of the plant in the rainforest are the climate. Plants are fit to live in the warm, humid climates of numerous tropical locations. They must bear with temperatures continuously above 64F and rainfall that surpasses 100 inches each year. Small plants in the rainforest have to get special growing patterns to contend with tall trees for sunlight, air, and water.

Plants in the rainforest collect nutrients in tubers and root systems and send vines up through the canopy to get sunlight, air, water, and nutrients. Animal diversity stems from changes, and many animals focus on the various resources supplied by the large variety of plants and complex forest structure. “Many animals survive in tropical forest through specialized mutualisms, where animals, and plants interact for mutual benefit, and mutualism also happens when animals eat fruits and scatter the seeds within, promoting plant reproduction plant” (Brokaw, 2002).

There are so many creatures living in the rainforest, there is a great amount of competition for food, sunlight, and space, and animals have made particular preparations to survive. Some animals have become very adapted to eating a certain plant or animal than others eat, and sometimes there are relationships between animals and plants that benefit both. Some trees rely on animals to distribute the seeds of their fruit to parts of the forest birds, and mammals eat the fruits and travel some distance before the seeds go through their digestive system in another part of the forest.

Ecological succession and rainforests go hand in hand. The tall old trees forming a canopy over the rainforest prohibits plant life from growing beneath. The climate beneath does not allow adequate conditions for plants to grow on the floor below. The trees are also so old and close together that the sunlight also prohibits the life of new trees to grow. Because of this there cannot be new trees unless an old one dies, “creating a” hole” in the canopy” (Harris, 2001). Due to the canopy preventing sunlight from entering the rainforest it allows only specific animals to survive in the rainforest.

Most life that live there is birds and monkeys that live in the trees. Mostly because the food available there come from above. There are also large cats, pigs, and insects that live on the floor below. The species that survive the rainforest must adapt to the rainforests environment. It is cool underneath the trees, which make it possible for the animals and insects to survive. On the trees are monkeys, birds, and some insects. These organisms survive because there is sunlight available to them. Bats also live in the rainforest.

The cool and dark environment under the umbrella of trees make it possible for bats to live and survive off the insects and fruit that also live there. The human population continues to grow at an extensive rate. “Population pressures, particularly in tropical areas, force the acquisition of ever more agricultural and habitable land, and, as suitable lowland fertile areas have already been brought under the plow, more and more marginal and fragile lands with poor soil, hills and mountains are being cultivated” (Human Population Growth, 2013).

Most of the causes of rainforest destruction can be closely linked to the large amount of population growth during this century. The disappearance of rainforests and biodiversity is proportional to the rate of expansion of the human population. Considering that almost half of the world’s rainfalls on the rainforest we need to start paying more attention to all of the resources it gives. The biggest threat to the rainforest is man. If the population keeps expanding the way it is, we will continue to see more demand for space, and more rainforests destroyed.

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