Layers of the Forest

The Forest Floor: Shrub Layer

posted Jun 7, 2011, 8:03 PM by SierraKiera   [ updated Jun 8, 2011, 8:04 AM ]

Unless a canopy tree falls and leaves an opening, this is the darkest place in the entire rainforest! Less than 1% of the sunlight that strikes the emergent layer reaches to the forest floor. Few plants, such as ferns and moss,  grow in this area and things begin to decay quickly. Nature decays so fast that a leaf that might take one year to decompose in a regular climate, will disappear in 6 weeks if fallen to the florest floor. Since bushes or herbs grow in low quantities, a person could easily walk through most parts of the forest. With the aid of termites, earthworms, and fungi for decomposing, head and humidity also contribute. However, all of this organic matter is absorbed by the trees' shallow roots.

The forest floor is home to giant anteaters who thrive on the termites and insects crawling about on the ground.

Emergent Layer

posted Oct 15, 2009, 1:24 AM by SierraKiera   [ updated Jun 8, 2011, 8:05 AM ]

Contains a very small number of trees that grow above the canopy layer (which is the primary layer of the forest). Trees within this layer reach astounding heights of 45 to 55 meters high with umbrella-shaped canopies.
These trees receive the most sunlight, but at the cost of facing hot temperatures, low humidity, and strong winds - due to this weather, the trees tend to have small, pointed leaves. These giants have straight, smooth trunks with few branches, however, the root system is very shallow. In order to support its grand size, they grow buttresses that can spread out to a distance of 30 feet.
Eagles, butterflies, bats, and certain monkeys inhabit this layer.

The Upper Canopy Layer

posted Oct 13, 2009, 12:58 AM by SierraKiera   [ updated Jun 8, 2011, 8:05 AM ]

The canopy is the primary layer of the forest and forms a roof over the two remaining layers. The upper canopy of 60 to 130 foot trees alows light to be easily available at the top of this layer, but greatly reduce any light below it. Majority of the forest life dwell in the canopy layer since there is so much food available - in fact, there is so much food that some animals do not even go down to the forest floor!
The branches are often densely covered with other plants (epiphytes) and tied together with vines (lianas).
Many of the leaves in this layer have "drip spouts" that allows rain to run right off the leaf and prevent any fungi to form in the humid enviornment. It keeps the leaf dry and prevent mildew from forming.
Within the canopy, snakes, toucans, and tree frogs flourish. This is their home: a maze of leaves and branches. Almost 90% of the organisms found in the rain forest live in this layer, as they seek the light.

The Understory Layer

posted Oct 13, 2009, 12:58 AM by SierraKiera   [ updated Jun 8, 2011, 8:06 AM ]

Within the understory, also known as the lower canopy, little sunshine reaches, thus the plant have to grow larger leaves to obtain sufficient sunlight. Unlike the other two layers, plants grow a seldom 3 meters, or 10 feet. The understory grows 60 foot trees and the layer is mainly made up of the trunks from the canopy trees, shrubs, plants, and small trees. Unlike the emergent layer, there is hardly any air movement; this results in high humidity, but still provides constant shade.  
Receiving only 2-15% of the sunlight that falls on the canopy, the understory is a rather dark place and houses the jaguars, red-eyed tree frogs, and leopards. Also, there's a large concentration of insects here.

1-4 of 4