What are the characteristics of the tropical rainforest?

BBC Bitesize – tropical rainforests

BBC Class Clips – tropical rainforest structure

BBC Bitesize – flora and fauna in tropical rainforests

Water and nutrient cycles

Image result for tropical rainforest water cycle

Image result for tropical rainforest climate graphClimate

The daily temperature is about 28C. It never goes below 20C and rarely above 35C. It is a very wet climate, at least 2000mm of rain falls a year. This makes the atmosphere very hot and humid. There are no real seasons. Each day’s weather is the same – starting off hot and dry, with thunderstorms and heavy rain in early evening.

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  • The soils are red in colour and rich in iron.
  • They have a thick layer of litter (dead leaves etc) as trees drop their leaves all year round but only a thin fertile layer because the leaves decompose very quickly in the humid conditions.
  • The soils are not very good for plants to grow in as nutrients are quickly washed out (leached) of the soil because of heavy rainfall.
  • Trees and other vegetation have roots close to the surface, where the nutrients are – there are lots of roots in the humus layer

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  • The vegetation in rainforests grows in distinct layers and has adapted to the climate and poor soils.
  • Trees are very tall and trunks are thin to reach sunlight.Buttress roots support these tall trees in shallow soils.
  • Lianas are woody vines that climb high to reach the sunlight.
  • Leaves in the tropical rainforest have drip tips to allow rainfall to drip down to the lower layers and shed heavy rainfall easily.
  • Lack of wind near the foerst floor means that many plants have to rely on bees, butterflies or other animals for pollination.

Image result for tropical rainforest sloth Fauna

  • More animal species than any other ecosystem
  • Gorillas, jaguars, anacondas, tree frogs and sloths
  • Lots of species of insects and birds
  • Many animals are camouflaged e.g. leaf tailed geckos look like leaves so they can hide from predators.
  • Some animals are nocturnal (active at night) e.g. sloths. This is so they can sleep through the day and feed at night when it’s cooler – this helps them to save energy.