Tropical Rain Forests Essay

1283 words - 5 pages

Tropical rain forests are considered to possess more plants and animals than any other forests on earth. There is a seemingly endless array of unique species of both plants and animals. Unless you've been to a tropical rain forest, it's difficult to grasp the idea of what a rich treasure they actually are. They are only found within 25 degrees of the equator, which enhances their appeal.(Caufield) In order to grasp this concept, you will need a quick overview of where these forests are located and what exactly is in a tropical rain forest.The term "rain forest" was first fabricated in 1898 by a German botanist named Schimper, to describe forests that grow in constantly wet conditions. Rain forests can typically grow wherever the annual rainfall is more than 80 inches and evenly spread throughout the year. Rain forests are found in temperate climates as well as tropical climates, but tropical rain forests only grow in a narrow band around the equator. (Caufield) In order to better understand tropical rain forests, you should know that there are many different types of tropical rain forests. They can be divided into two broad categories according to elevation. There are the lowland rain forests as well as the montane rain forests. Mixed in with these dominant forests are unique forests such as mangrove forests and flooded forests.Lowland forests are by far the biggest, but because they are so easily accessible, they have suffered the most damage due to clearance. (Usually farmers clearing out the trees for farmland) The lowland forests are generally found under 3,000 feet, but only up to 1,800 feet in western Amazonia. These forests also have the largest of all plant communities in the world.(Gallant) The canopy can reach a height of more the 150 feet and consist of many different species of trees living close together. A few trees, call emergents, break through the canopy and often attain heights of 200 feet. These trees usually have a straight branchless trunk of 130 to 165 feet of the ground. The tallest broad-leaf tree ever recorded was a Koompassia excelsa from Sarawak. This monster tree stood over 270 feet tall!(Compton's Encyclopedia) Botanists have identified as many as 40 different types of lowland rain forest, differing mainly only in the amount of rainfall, soil fertility, and drainage. These different types of lowland forests are called specialized forests. For example, on free-draining sandy soils heath forest may be forced to grow. These are known s Kerangas in Borneo and as Caatinga in South America. Their flat canopy and many slender trees characterize these forests.In most rainforests, there are very little nutrients in the soil. In response to this problem some plants have to come up with very elaborate ways of getting protein. Several species of carnivorous plants flourish in these difficult conditions. Due to the unique climate in a tropical rainforest, most of these plants and animals are only found in specific tropical...

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