One of the most interesting facts about the tropical rainforest is that half of the plants and animals on the planet live in these habitats and many species may still be undiscovered. Rainforests contain two-thirds of earth's flowering plant species, and over one-fourth of natural medicines have been discovered there.Continue Reading
Rainforests have high temperatures and rainfall; they are usually located near the equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The climate is often called tropical.
Rainforests are divided into different strata or layers from the top of the soil to the canopy. Different plants and animals live in each layer. The lowest layer — the forest floor — only gets about 2 percent of the sunlight, so it has relatively little vegetation. The understory layer has organisms like birds, small mammals, insects and reptiles. Shade-tolerant shrubs, small trees, saplings and vines grow there. Most have large leaves to capture sunlight because the understory only receives about 5 percent of sunlight. Most of the largest trees grow in the canopy. They are usually 100 to 150 feet tall. Plants called epiphytes attach to tree trunks and branches, then collect water and minerals from rain and debris that collects on the trees. These include orchids, moss and lichens. Macaws, parrots, spider monkeys and sloths are all canopy animals. Many scientists believe that rainforests are the most complex ecosystem, and people are constantly discovering new information about these fascinating regions.Learn more about Environmental Science