Tropical Rainforest Biome

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1 "The land is one great, wild, untidy luxuriant hothouse, made by Nature for herself... How great would be the desire in every admirer of Nature to behold, if such were possible, the scenery of another planet!... Yet to every person it may truly be said, that the glories of another world are opened to him" Charles Darwin in The Voyage of the Beagle

2 "Never to have seen anthing but the temperate zone is to have lived on the fringe of the world" David Fairchild

3 associated with warm, moist tropical lowlands; equatorial rainbelt; short dry season sometimes most diverse and structurally complex biome multi-layered, evergeen canopy provides diversity of niches recurrent structural and physiological adaptations to similar environments; these have arisen in quite different floras

4 Location: 1. Equator to 10 or 25 N & S latitude and 0-1,000m elevation in Americas, Africa, SE Asia

5 Location: 2. Along coasts windward to the trades E. Brazil, Madagascar, NE Australia

6 Location: 3. East coasts with orographic precipitation E. Panama and Costa Rica, E. Puerto Rico

7 Location: Seasonally dry tropical forests adjacent at higher latitudes or on leeward side of montane regions

8 Three floristically diverse regions: 1. American: 50% of area 2. African: 20% 3. S.E. Asian - Pacific: 30% Tropical Rainforest Biome

9 Fragmentation of rainforests especially African and Asian ongoing Tropical Rainforest Biome Remaining forests

10 Relationships to other tropical forest systems elevation gradient: Tropical montane or cloud forest

11 Relationships to other tropical forest systems elevation gradient: Elfin forest

12 Relationships to other tropical forest systems elevation gradient: Paramo

13 Relationships to other tropical forest systems specialized swamp forests: Mangrove and beach forests

14 Relationships to other tropical forest systems specialized swamp forests: Seasonally flooded swamp forests Várzea: flooded by muddy water tributaries of Amazon Rio Beni, Bolivia

15 Relationships to other tropical forest systems specialized swamp forests: Seasonally flooded swamp forests Várzea: flooded by muddy water tributaries of Amazon flooded vs. dry

16 Relationships to other tropical forest systems specialized swamp forests: Seasonally flooded swamp forests Igapó: flooded by nutrient poor waters of sandy soils (leached tannin stained) Rio Negro, Amazonas

17 Relationships to other tropical forest systems latitudinal moisture gradient: Subtropical deciduous forests (& monsoon, tropical deciduous, thorn forest) Alamos, Mexico Summer green, winter dry

18 Climate diurnal patterns (not seasonal) 25 C mean annual temperature daily convectional precipitation 2-4 meters + rain

19 Soil warm soil and water surplus promote rock decomposition reddish laterite soil silica leached, Al + Fe left, acidic well leached, no litter Brazil - after deforestation Hawaiian (Kauai - 5my) richer volcanic soil

20 Soil soil incapable of holding nutrient base cations nutrients held in biomass slash-burn agriculture quickly depletes nutrients in biomass and soil Panama slash burn agriculture Brazil cattle grazing following limited slash burn agriculture

21 Vegetation warm & wet climate allows for broadleaf evergreen forest to dominate net productivity is highest of terrestrial biomes highest diversity (species number) of any biome

22 Diversity 100,000 +/- species of flowering plants (40% of world s angiosperm flora) many undescribed or not discovered Greatest species diversity in wet tropics Al Gentry (UW grad) holds undescribed genus of liana

23 Diversity much of what we know in various rainforests around the world comes from the Rapid Assessment Program of Conservation International Greatest species diversity in wet tropics two of the leaders were Ted Parker (ornithologist) and Al Gentry (botanist) they knew by sight (or sound) more tropical American birds and plants, respectively, than anyone else to date

24 Why this diversity? general correlation with low latitude and rainfall American Asian African wet dry Tree species diversity in 1 hectare wet and dry forests around the world (Gentry)

25 Why this diversity? stable ecologically? climatic change, allopatric speciation? coevolution with animals? Virola (nutmeg family) Bird dispersed fruits

26 Where is the diversity? in the tree strata primarily woody species per hectare Amazon Wisconsin 60,000 spp. 2,000 spp. 6,000 trees 50 trees

27 Floristic dissimilarity of 3 regions Tropical Rainforest Biome palms (Arecaceae) basically lacking in Africa (but not Madagascar) and diverse in Malaysia and South America Madagascar Malaysia

28 Floristic dissimilarity of 3 regions Tropical Rainforest Biome dipterocarps (Dipterocarpaceae) diverse in SE Asia, lacking elsewhere can form 80% of canopy can form 40% of understory Does it suggest only ancient floristic linkage of tropical biomes? Dipterocarp forest in Borneo

29 Floristic nature of 3 regions Similar families of trees involved in each floristic region, but quite different genera and species Tropical Rainforest Biome Gentry tropical forest study sites

30 Floristic nature of 3 regions Are families allowed only certain number of species in each forest (Gentry hypothesis)? Asia Africa America

31 Structure of the vegetation: Trees tall trees form continuous canopy; therefore dense shade below pervasive problem of extreme light at canopy vs. low light quantity within forest Dense canopy in Costa Rica Dense canopy in Borneo

32 Structure of the vegetation: Trees Tropical Rainforest Biome... and low light quality within forest Dense canopy in Borneo

33 Structure of the vegetation: Trees Tropical Rainforest Biome struggle for quantity and quality of light has generated numerous physiognomic and physiological adaptations in unrelated species Dense canopy in Borneo

34 Structure of the vegetation: Trees Tropical Rainforest Biome tropical trees show characteristic shape and branching (convergence)

35 Structure of the vegetation: Trees - 3 strata emergent crowns discontinuous; 40 m (130 ft) tall American tropics Asian tropics

36 Structure of the vegetation: Trees - 3 strata buttress or plank roots for shallowly rooted trees - convergent evolution Stockwellia (Australia) Swietenia - mahogany (Costa Rica) dipterocarp (Borneo) Gyranthera (Venezuela)

37 Structure of the vegetation: Trees - 3 strata continuous canopy at m ( ft) Tropical Rainforest Biome

38 Structure of the vegetation: Trees - 3 strata continuous canopy at m ( ft) Tropical Rainforest Biome Canopy walk in Costa Rica

39 Structure of the vegetation: Trees - 3 strata lower zone at 5-15 m (15-50 ft); palms and palm relatives often dominate here

40 Structure of the vegetation: Trees - 3 strata lower zone at 5-15 m (15-50 ft); small, slender crowns, stilt roots for support - convergent Hornstedtia (Zingiberaceae) Borneo Palm - Panama

41 Structure of the vegetation: Tree roots Tropical Rainforest Biome shallow feeder roots efficient in taking up nutrients often mycorrhizal

42 Structure of the vegetation: Tree roots Tropical Rainforest Biome shallow feeder roots efficient in taking up nutrients often mycorrhizal fungi/bacteria recycle nutrients quickly for roots

43 Structure of the vegetation: Leaves Tropical Rainforest Biome canopy leaves exposed to recurrent dry periods - evergreen, thick cuticle, leathery Ficus - fig (Moraceae) Syzygium (Australia)

44 Structure of the vegetation: Leaves compound leaves common new leaves with anthocyanin flush to prevent photo-oxidation Sterculia - (Malvaceae) Ceiba - kapoc (Malvaceae)

45 Structure of the vegetation: Leaves Tropical Rainforest Biome interior forest more stable (dark and humid) drip tip leaves common Ficus - fig

46 Structure of the vegetation: Leaves Tropical Rainforest Biome Ghana undergrowth study with 90% drip tips Nepenthes (Asian pitcher plant) drip tip converted into carnivorous trapping structure

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