Tropical Rainforest Essay

1324 words - 6 pages

Tropical Rainforest
More than half of the world’s tropical rainforests can be found in Central and South America, however they are also present in south eastern Asia and Africa. All of the world’s tropical rainforests can be found at the approximate location of -20 degrees latitude, also known as the area between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. These types of areas exist because of the specific climate, soil types, and diversity present in these regions. This specific area falls in the equatorial and tropical zone and are therefore their climates are controlled by the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and it’s low pressure centers around the equator. Winds present are moist equatorial (mE) and moist tropical (mT). There is no clear seasonality in these regions, where the temperature rarely gets higher than 34 degrees C (93F) or below 20 degrees C (68F) in a diurnal pattern; with an average humidity around 83% due to the precipitation regimes of about 103 inches of rain annually - thus providing an overall very wet climate (Fan, 2014).
In terms of landscape, tropical rainforests are generally found at an elevation between 0-3000m depending on the type: Tropical lowland evergreen, tropical semi-evergreen, montane, heath, peat swamp, mangrove, or freshwater swamp. There is no seasonal change in vegetation, the main plants in the biomes are trees which compose about 70% of the vegetation. The thick canopy due to the rather dense amount of trees present provides as a shield from the intense sunlight to the plants and other organisms below. Vegetation in the rainforest is restricted to species that can tolerate high amounts of precipitation, humidity, low sunlight, low nutrient levels, and acidic soil. Some examples are philodendron, many palms, and epiphytes such as bromeliads and orchids. Once again, one of the overall limiting factor is sunlight, due to the thick canopy cover causing dense shade and various layers to the canopy itself. These layers consist of emergent trees of over 100 ft in height; which are sporadic and often supported by buttresses, the continuous canopy of 50-100 ft, and the lower canopy of 15-50ft often supported by stilt roots. Below the understory there is a woody shrub layer and non-woody herb layer (citation). An adaptation present in many trees native to this area is the “drip-tip”. This is advantageous because if water is allowed to sit on leaves and then the hot sun returns - it can easily burn the leaves causing the trees to be stressed and often defoliate. The other limiting factor that determines the type of vegetation present in the tropical rainforest is soil.
The tropical rainforest possesses well developed soil, however it maintains no visible O and A horizons. Thus attributing to the nutrient poor soil quality. Soil in tropical rainforest also has relatively low soil productivity. This is because as one organisms dies the nutrients left behind that would normally...

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