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Environmental Interdependence in the Exotic Rainforest

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1

The temparate rainforest is like a three floor home with a basement. I use this analogy as the house generally harbors a family that operates together as a unit. This is the case of the rainforest in many different ways, among flora, fauna, photosynthesis, the significant four levels and ultimately the world.

Each level is interdependent, pulling from and benefiting from the layers above and below. The bottom layer or "basement" has a lean stale damp humus blanket with only a small number of leaves that have fallen. This floor is home to a variety of microorganisms which are needed to decompose the biological matter falling from all layers above. These are the recycling mechanisms of the rainforest, providing fertilizer to the higher layering plants and trees. It's sweltering, extremely damp, dark with practically no sun rays, and home to a number of bugs, jaguars, tapirs, gorillas, burrowing creatures and wild boars. Plants have to fight for what sunshine comes through and those consists of those plants with "air roots" or plants that are opportunistic, living on the limbs of ground rooted plants or trees. These piggy-back plants may inevitably strangle the host tree trying to access one of the higher floors searching for light.

These opportunistic plants move completely up to the 1st and 2nd layers. The 1st layer is dark like the basement. It hides beneath trees with enormous, broad leaves, but it's a bit more open. The temperature is not as scorching. There's some breeze. It's home to short leafed plants that demand little soil. Plants like ferns, philodendrons, heliconias and palms are located in the tree bark. insects, serpents, lizards, and various little mammals reside among these plants. You can also see birds that eat bugs in these branches which are chock-full of food for them. There are some monkeys and jaguars that use these branches as a hideout while they hunt for food on the floors that are rich in lichen.

"Canopy" is the name given to the 2nd floor of the rainforest. It is envoloped in huge green leaves which love sun. They produce fruits and flowers all year long. You can find a big diversity of plant life and animals here. Various examples of what can be noticed are bromeliads, orchids, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and even crabs. From this level, you can't see the forest layer, but there is the magnificence of another attractiveness on this level which can't be observed below.

The top floor is also labeled the emergent floor, and it has very tall trees, which can reach the size of one hundred thirty five feet. Here you can see birds feeding off flowers in the early morning, and animals gathered in the bromeliad cups

This level is also the place in which photosynthesis takes place. Photosynthesis is a chemical effect which occurs in the plants in which water, carbon-dioxide and solar power are transformed into glucose and oxygen.

The power that is made in this chemical reaction is then employed by the plant to develop and to nourish the plant's reproductive routines. Any additional sugar is put in the leaves, stem and roots. This glucose acts as food for the organisms which feed on the plants. An additional benefit of this process is the processing of oxygen. The plants introduce it into the environment, while they get the carbon-dioxide which is utilized during the photosynthesis.

There are numerous creatures that dwell in this towering house. Most of them are fond of the layer in which they reside, and they are really territorial. Nevertheless, in the same way that the trees depend on the diverse layers, these creatures rely upon the family. In certain cases, their movements count on the flowering and fruiting of trees. This is the case of a good number of birds. There are others (like the sloth and the howler monkey) which eat cellulose leaves. Most animals are not able to digest cellulose. Nevertheless, the slow moving sloth has grown acccustomed to doing so.

A great illustration of the interdependence seen in this 4 story house is the 3 toed sloth, a creature that loves the cecropia tree leaf and feeds almost exclusively on this. This distinctive slow moving animal has adapted and grows hair from its stomach to its back since it hangs upside down much of the time. This fur, due to its dampness and the sloth's slow movement permits green algae to grow in the fur. The slow metabolic process of the sloth determines its slow movements and less need for great quantities of cellulose leafage. This creature urinates and passes faeces about once a week when it descends to the ground. The fur of the sloth is home to a certain moth. Upon descent to the ground the moth lays its eggs in the faeces, flies back to its home in the sloth's fur, the eggs hatch and the new moths find other sloths to call home. Sloth faecal matter at the base of the cecropia tree in turn is food to the cecropia tree.

So, the abundant interactive home-life of the rainforest floors, the plant piggybacking, the animal's cyclical interdependence and the process of photosynthesis make the exotic rainforest most exceptional and ingenious. Interruption of any part can without doubt influence the whole and obviously this eco-system eventually nourishes the planet as well.

One-fifth of the globe's biodiversity in plant and animal realms can be found in Costa Rica. The good thing is that one fourth of this country boasts rainforest national property, parks and reserves.


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Comments

Jul 21, 2010 10:11am
adsensesharing
This is an amazing article. It would have been so much more if you could have added a picture of one or some of the forest inhabitants that you wrote about. This environmental interdependence just goes to show that working together is the key to survival in the jungle.... I mean the exotic rain forest :-)
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