Rainforests - Churchville-Chili Central School District

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Rainforests
Rainforest- a hot humid jungle,
mostly found near the equator
Equator- an imaginary line around the
center of the Earth
Many tribal people have called the
rainforest home for hundreds and
thousands of years.
• They’ve taught us about many of the
medicines and foods we use today.
• They know how to find and use wild
plants.
A rain forest has a great
diversity, or variety, of plants
and animals.
• In fact, a rain forest has more species
of plants and animals than any other
ecosystem on Earth.
Many of the plants from the
rainforest are used for medicine.
• One-fourth of the drugs that you can buy at
the drugstore have products that come from
the rainforest.
It is almost always raining in a
rainforest.
• Rainforests get over 80 inches of rain each
year.
• The rain is evenly distributed throughout the
year in a tropical rainforest.
The temperature in a rainforest
never freezes and never gets very
hot.
• The range of temperature is usually
between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The soil of a tropical rainforest
is only about 3-4 inches thick.
• Thick clay lies underneath the soil.
• Once damaged, the soil of a tropical
rainforest takes many years to recover.
The Forest Floor- the ground
floor of the rainforest
• The Forest Floor is a fairly open area,
carpeted with moss and decaying leaves.
• Small plants that need little light, such as
ferns and moss grow here.
The Forest Floor, continued
• Higher up there is a dense ceiling of leaves
and branches that blocks out most of the
sunlight.
• The leaves also keep rain and wind from
reaching the forest floor.
The Forest Floor, continued
Most of the forest floor inhabitants are
decomposers that live on leaf litter and other
debris.
The Forest Floor, continued
On the forest floor of a
rainforest in Central
America, you might see:
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an anaconda
an armadillo
a poison arrow frog
a wood turtle
a fer-de-lance
a jaguar
a caiman
army ants
leafcutter ants
flightless birds
The Understory- the next layer
above the forest floor
• The Understory is a tangle of shrubs, young
trees, palms and woody plants that can grow
in the shade of the taller trees.
The Understory, continued
• The leaves of many of the plants in the
Understory are especially large, so that they
can absorb as much sunlight as possible.
• The plants in this layer of the forest rarely
grow higher than twelve feet.
The Understory, continued
In the Understory of a
rainforest in Central
America you might see:
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bats
snakes
birds
a red-eyed tree frog
an iguana
a tarantula
spider monkeys
a jaguar
insects
The Canopy- the third layer from
the bottom
• Trees as high as 100 feet form a continuous
green roof over the forest below.
• This roof is like a canopy, or an umbrella.
The Canopy, continued
• This layer gets much of the rainfall, and it
keeps the rain from falling on the Understory.
• There is abundant food and sunlight for
thousands of animals and plants.
The Canopy, continued
In the canopy of a rainforest
in Central America, you
might see:
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three-toed sloths
toucans
parrots
macaws
spider monkeys
howler monkeys
butterflies
snakes
orchids
large-leafed vines
hummingbirds
The Emergent Layer- the top
level of the rainforest
• This layer has trees that grow to heights of 250
feet.
• These trees receive the full brunt of the hot sun,
wind and rain.
• They often have thick, waxy leaves to help them
retain water and protect themselves from the sun
and wind.
The Emergent Layer, continued
In the Emergent Layer of
a rainforest in Central
America, you might see:
• a harpy eagle
• other birds of prey
Rainforests are very important.
• They recycle and clean water.
• The trees and plants remove carbon dioxide
from the atmosphere and store it in their
roots, stems, leaves and branches.
Many of our favorite foods and
plants were discovered in
rainforests.
• Rainforest plants are used to make such products as
skin lotion, herbal tea and life-saving drugs.
• Cashew nuts, bananas, pineapple, cucumber, cocoa,
coffee, vanilla, lemons and coconuts were originally
from rainforests.
Rainforest Benefits Table
Helping the environment
Community resources
-source of carbon
-clean and regular water
-drives water and climate
-fresh air
cycles
-tourism
-helps stop flooding
-recreation
-prevents erosion
-genetic resources
-replenishes groundwater -scientific discoveries
-animals and insects
-education
pollinate plants
-source of plants for
-plants feed animals
horticultural industry
-animals eat insect pests
-food
-habitat
-pharmaceutical products
-refuge for rare species
-hydroenergy
-breaks down waste
-shade and shelter
-soil fertility
Personal enjoyment
-serenity
-scenic views
-bushwalking
-bird watching
-camping
-lifestyle
-sense of place
-national identity
-cultural identity
-sense of history
However, rainforests are
threatened.
• Rainforests used to cover 14% of the Earth’s
land.
• Now they cover less than 6%.
Rainforests are being destroyed at a
rate of about 75 million acres per
year.
• Trees are being used for their wood.
• Land is being cleared for roads, farming and
grazing.
The destruction of the rainforests is
affecting the Earth’s climate.
• The burning of rainforests releases carbon dioxide.
• With fewer trees to take in carbon dioxide and
transpire water back into the air, the Earth’s warmth
could be trapped inside a growing layer of these
gases.
Flooding is another threat.
• Without the protection of rainforest plants,
soil is washed away by rain and wind.
• Without vegetation to slow the rain down, it
rushes into streams and rivers, causing them
to rise and flood vast areas.
The people are forced to leave
the rainforests.
• They can no longer eat the food they found in
the forest.
• They are exposed to new diseases that were
not in the forest.
Many animals can only survive in
the rainforests.
• If their homes are destroyed, they will
become extinct forever.
Many people are working hard to
save the rainforests.
One way is to create protected places called
reserves.
Selective cutting is
done in some
places.
• This means that loggers
and farmers can cut
down certain trees, but
others must be left to
grow.
Extractive reserves
could also help.
• In these reserves,
people are allowed to
take only limited
amounts of fruit, plants,
nuts, latex for the
production of rubber,
and other natural
products.

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