Rainforests are a beautiful, magnificent place full of millions of animals and plants. They consist of very dense, wet, warm forests. They are considered to be an important part of the Earth’s ecology, as they cover about 7% of the earth. All the plants and animals comprise an ecosystem that works in harmony amongst all of the different species, making it crucial to maintain a balance of each and every one of them. Rainforests are located in nearly every continent, with tropical rainforests mainly being found in Africa, Central America, South America, Southeast Asia, Australia, and nearby islands.
The Rainforest Strata
Different parts of the rainforest have different plants and animals living in them. Scientists have studied the rainforest and determined that there are different strata, or zones, making up the whole of the rainforest. From the top down, these strata include:
- The emergent stratum consists of giant trees that have a much higher than average canopy height. They house many insects and birds.
- The canopy stratum is made up of the upper parts of trees. It is full of all kinds of wildlife, such as insects, mammals, reptiles, birds, and more.
- The understory is a cool and dark environment that is under the canopy, but over the ground.
- The forest floor is full of animal life, especially many insect species. This is the strata where the largest animals generally live.
There is a plentiful array of animals that live in rainforests. The difference between a tropical rainforest and a temperate rainforest is that there is more diversity in animal and plant life in a tropical rainforest than in a temperate rainforest, or any other biome for that matter. Fewer animals live in the forest canopy in a temperate rainforest, as most of them are ground dwellers.
It is almost always raining in rainforests, hence the name. They get an average of over 80 inches of rainfall each year. This is evenly distributed throughout the year in a tropical rainforest, while in a temperate rainforest there are wet and dry seasons. The soil is ancient and thick in a tropical rainforest, and there is clay underneath the soil. It is prone to damage and takes awhile to recover. Temperate rainforests have relatively young soil that contains more nutrients and does not get damaged as easily.