The 4 Layers of the Rain Forest

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1 The Rain Forest has four (4) different sections where the trees, plants and animals live. These sections are called the Layers of The Rain Forest. Emergent Canopy Understory Floor

2 1. The Emergent Layer of the Rain Forest The top layer of the Rain Forest is called the EMERGENT Layer. This is where the treetops join together to form the roof of the forest. This layer gets more sun than the other parts of the Rain Forest. The Emergent layer has very tall and very wide trees - some trees can be over 250 feet high. Many plants start growing on the forest floor, and then grow up a tree to the Emergent layer where they can get light. It is very windy in the Emergent layer of the Rain Forest. The Harpy Eagle lives and hunts in the Emergent Layer. Many other bird and insect species live here including Bats, Butterflies, Vultures, Hummingbirds, Tree Frogs and Parrots. Some animals, like the Spider Monkey, also live high in the trees so they can find food and shelter far away from the other large animals of the Rain Forest. Here are some of the animals that live in the Emergent layer: Vulture Tree Frog Harpy Eagle Monkey Butterfly Page 1

3 2. The Canopy Layer of the Rain Forest Just below the Emergent Layer is a Layer of the Rain Forest called the CANOPY. The Canopy layer has trees that are up to 80 feet tall. The leaves of the canopy trees have special pointed tips. These leaves are very important because they let the rainfall drop softly to the forest floor and this prevents plant food and small insects from washing away. The Canopy has many trees and branches that act like an umbrella over the animals and plant life below. The canopy is a bright and colorful place, full of animals and plants. This includes howler monkeys, orangutans, sloths, and fruit bats. These animals love to eat the sweet fruit that grows in the canopy. Other animals that live in the canopy are tree frogs, parrots, squirrels, hummingbirds, butterflies, toucans, bees and the quetzal bird. The Canopy is also home to larger animals such as the python snake, jaguars and leopards. Here are pictures of some of the animals you can find in the Canopy layer: Leopard Monkey Iguana Sloth Kakapo Python Snake Quetzal Umbrella Bird Jaguar Page 2

4 3. The Understory Layer of the Rain Forest The UNDERSTORY is darker than the Canopy since it is farther away from the sun. Boa constrictors, emerald tree snakes, lizards and monkeys cling to thick, woody vines that grow up the trees. These vines act as ladders for animals to allow them to climb up from the forest floor to the Understory. Many large cats, such as the panther, leopard and ocelot, hide in the branches of the understory waiting to find other animals for food. The Understory layer has many plant species including ferns, palm-lilies, native bananas, palms and other climbing plants. Trees here average feet in height and have exceptionally large leaves to compensate for the lack of sunlight. The leaves are so large that just one single leaf could be used for an umbrella. Insects and other small creatures also live well in the damp areas of the Understory. This includes frogs, reptiles, moths, butterflies, bees, ants, flies, beetles, crickets and spiders. These are preyed upon by iguanas, geckos, and birds and other animals that live here. Here are some of the animals you may find in the Understory: Ants Leopard Iguana Butterfly Monkey Dragonfly Frog Panther Snake Jaguar Page 3

5 4. The Forest Floor Layer of the Rain Forest The FOREST FLOOR is the ground layer. It is the darkest and dampest part of the forest since it gets very little sunlight. Very little plant life grows here other than moss and ferns. The soil is covered by leaf litter (dead and decayed leaves), which provides good food for tree roots. Small animals like ants, spiders, beetles, frogs, termites, mice and anteaters like to live here. We also find the largest animals in the Rain Forest roaming on the forest floor. This includes jaguars, tigers, leopards, panthers, gorillas, elephants, hippos and rhinoceros. You will also see turtles and large snakes like the anaconda on the forest floor. Here are some of the animals that live on the Forest Floor: Hippopotamus Ants Jaguar Turtle Wolf Anaconda Snake Gorilla Crocodile Panther Elephant Tiger Rhinoceros Page 4

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