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Tropical Rainforests of the World Part Thirteen
2 years ago

Rainforests are characterized by a unique vegetative structure consisting of several vertical layers including the overstory,canopy, understory, shrub layer, and ground level. 



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2 years ago

The canopy refers to the dense ceiling of leaves and tree branches formed by closely spaced forest trees.

2 years ago

The upper canopy is 100-130 feet above the forest floor, penetrated by scattered emergent trees, 130 feet or higher, that make up the level known as the overstory.

2 years ago

 Below the canopy ceiling are multiple leaf and branch levels known collectively as the understory. 

2 years ago

 The lowest part of the understory, 5-20 feet (1.5-6 meters) above the floor, is known as the shrub layer, made up of shrubby plants and tree saplings. 

2 years ago

The heavy vegetation of the canopy effectively screens light from the forest floor, and in a true (primary) equatorial rainforest, there is little "jungle-like" ground growth to impede movement. 

2 years ago

Ground vegetation in primary forest is minimal and usually consists mainly of lianas (vines) and tree seedlings.

2 years ago

An important characteristic of the canopy system is the presence of plants known as epiphytes, that grow on canopy trees. 

2 years ago

Epiphytes are not parasitic because they draw no nutrients away from the host, but use the host tree only for support.

2 years ago

High in the canopy, epiphytes are better able to access the strong tropical sunlight, which they require for growth. 

2 years ago

 Epiphytes have adapted well to their aerial environment, developing various means to collect nutrients from their surroundings, the mechanisms for which are discussed in detail in the canopy section. 

1 year ago

An additional plant type characteristic of the canopy system is the liana—a sort of woody vine that begins life as a shrub on the forest floor and makes its way up to the canopy by latching on to canopy trees.

 

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