Rainforests are biomes with dense biodiversity. So much so, that animals who live at the top of the rainforest rarely or never come down to the forest floor.
There are 4 layers in a rainforest:
The emergent layer rests on the top of the rainforest. It consists of enormous trees that can grow up to 100 meters high and protrude out from the rest of the plants.
The climate in the emergent layer is very different from the rest of the rainforest. At the highest point of the rainforest, it receives direct sunlight during the day making it very hot. At night the temperatures drop, and there is no protection from strong wind and heavy rain.
Trees have adapted to this climate by growing small, thick, and wax covered leaves. These leaves can withstand strong winds. The wax cover stops all the water from evaporating from the hot tropical sunlight.
Animals who live in the emergent layer have also adapted. Branches in the emergent layer are weak and thin. Only birds, insects, and small animals can live there.
Under the emergent layer, the canopy layer has the hottest climate. It is also the most biodiverse area of the rainforest and is home to 60% to 90% of species living in the forest.
The canopy layer is around 100 feet from the ground. It is called the canopy layer because its branches spread out to form a kind of roof over the rest of the rainforest.
The canopy layer can support its huge animal population because it is rich in fruit and nuts.
The canopy is the rainforest’s power station. Its leaves turn sunlight into energy through photosynthesis. Supplying plenty of energy for plants to grow.
The weather is damp and humid in the understory layer. This climate is perfect for young trees, shrubs, ferns and climbing plants.
With the canopy above, the understory receives very little sunlight.
Vines and climbing plants grow from the forest floor. Attach themselves to tree trunks and climb upwards to reach a point where there is enough sunlight.
There are no seasonal changes in the understory layer.
Many insects, reptiles, and mammals are found here.
Less than 2% of the total sunlight reaches the forest floor. It is dark and the climate is humid.
The forest floor is like a compost pit. All the leaves, branches, seeds, and fruit fall to the forest floor. They decompose making it the most nutrient-rich layer of the rainforest.
The largest animals in the rainforest can be found on the forest floor. Elephants, tigers, and jaguars roam this dense part of the rainforest.
Only the strong survive on the forest floor. There is little to no sunlight and heavy rains wash away the soil. Seedlings must compete for survival in this harsh environment.
Like any biome, rainforests have producers. These are plant species that make life for other species possible in unique ways. They convert sunlight, water and soil into energy. The rainforest’s tropical climate is unique. Some of these producers are only found in rainforests.