Sunday, 12 June 2011

Plants and Animals Adaptations to the Tropical Rainforest

The plants need sunlight for photosynthesis (the way they make their own food). This is because the plant traps the sun's energy in the chlorophyll, in the leaves. This is then used to turn carbon dioxide and water into glucose. The glucose gives the plants energy to grow. The sunlight is a huge part of photosynthesis, which keeps the plants live. To be able to reach the sun, and to survive in the Tropical Rainforest, plants have many adaptations:

Lianas are thick, twisted vines which loop around tree trunks to reach the sunlight. Also they hang from tree's to reach it as well. This helps, because it speeds up the process of getting to the sunlight, as it is constantly moving from tree to tree while they are growing. As a result they achieve more sunlight and grow better. 

Lianas hanging on to the trees.

Epiphytes, which are also known as air plants, are small plants which grow on tree branches, rather than in the soil. They have special roots which are different to in the soil, to help them grow on the trees. The reasons may be, in the soil it is very dark and there is no sunlight, therefore they don't grow as well. The soil is very acidic and lacks nutrients therefore it doesn't grow as much also. Therefore on the tree, they are growing a great deal better than in the soil. 

Many Epiphytes on a tree branch.

Drip Tips
Tropical Rainforests receive 160 to 400 inches of rainfall per year and the rain can be very heavy. To adapt to this, most leaves of trees have pointed tips and are very slippery. This is to help the rain glide off the leaves so they don't cause damage. Also, this keeps them dry which prevents mold or mildew from forming, in the humid enviroment. This helps them to survive in the Rainforests.

A leaf with drip tip.

Buttress Roots

The trees in the Rainforest weigh hundreds of tonnes and are some of the tallest living structures on earth but they have roots in very thin soil. Whenever it rains, which is very often, the soil is washed away leaving even thinner soil. To anchor the tree and prevent it falling over, they have huge buttresses roots that spread to a distance of 30ft. They come in various shapes and sizes but all have the same purpose, which is to stabilize the tree. 

Buttress roots

Food Web

This is a food web for a Tropical Rainforest. In this food web, the Predators are the Fox and the Owl, which are always carnivores and only eat meat. This is because they are not eaten by anything, but eat the Mouse, Frog, Snake and Squirrel. They all come next as the Primary consumers, which are generally carnivores or omnivores. Omnivores eat both meat and vegetation. Primary consumers are eaten by the Predators and eat the Secondary consumers. In this food web, they are the Cricket and Rabbit. These are always herbivores and only eat vegetation. After, comes the decomposers. Decomposers are things like Fungi and Bacteria which help put nutrients back into the soil. They do this by eating dead animals and plants and then descreeting it into feces. This then puts nutrients back into the soil which helps the plants to grow.

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