Ecology And Environment

Facts about Tropical Forests



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Rain forests occupy an alarmingly low percentage; approximately 6 percent, of the world’s surface, as a result of human activity. Rain forests in the tropics make the most of that percentage, but are uniquely distinct from other rain forests. This article explores the facts that distinguish the tropical rain forests from the rest, and how they support ecosystem.

Tropical rainforests are characterized by a year-round warmth, with temperatures ranging between 680F and 930F. Average rainfall is about 50 to 260 inches yearly with average humidity of approximately 90 percent.

Due to these conditions, the trees are known to grow taller, with straight trunks, and few, or no branches. At the height of these trees, canopies are formed, providing a constant shade to the undergrowth, with very little light allowed through. Majority of the trees have a smooth bark that is resistant to parasites, and are not susceptible to loss of water, or freezing temperatures.

As earlier noted, tropical rain forests form the largest portion of the six percent of forest cover in the world. They are the main producers of earth’s oxygen, about 40 percent, and consequently, clean up the earth’s atmosphere.

Tropical rain forests also provide a suitable habitat for a million species of animals, reptiles, birds and mammals. In fact, more than half of the world’s animals live in the tropics, some of which have not been discovered yet. Due to their large number, a great deal of competition for food is unavoidable, forcing the animals to adapt to their environment to ensure survival.

The relationship between animals and plants in the tropics is also found to be mutually beneficial to both. Animals depend on plants for food, while plants depend on animals for nutrients, and transfer of seeds to other parts of the forest through their digestive systems.  Trees provide shelter, as well as provide for camouflage in case of attack by predators. Predators also use vegetation as camouflage while attacking their prey.

Lastly, people living in the tropical rain forests adapt to their environment. Food is readily available, as trees provide a wide variety of fruits and greens for food. The barks of some trees, as well as some vegetation are known to provide herbal medication for tropical diseases. A well known disease associated with tropical rain forests is malaria, spread by mosquitoes. Although the locals have developed a resistance to this disease, it still is responsible for majority of death related diseases in the tropics, affecting mainly children and people with weak immune systems. Protection from mosquito bites is generally advised, whether local or just visiting.

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