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Chapter summary

  • There are many different plant and animal species in a rainforest, but the trees define the way a rainforest looks.
  • Plants and animals are important because they are a part of the system that makes the rainforest work.
  • Rainforests are a very important part of the earth's environment, so the plants and animals in a rainforest's ecosystem are also important.
  • The Amazon rainforest, the biggest rainforest in the world, is home to one-third of all the species in the world.
Many different plant and animal species thrive in the rainforest environment, but it is the trees that define the way we see the rainforest. From the air, a rainforest looks like an enormous, green carpet. The canopy very rarely breaks, with no gaps between the trees. Beneath these trees, there are thousands of different types of plants. Living amongst the trees, vines, shrubs, ferns, and mosses are many different types of animals. These range from the smallest ant to the carnivorous (meat-eating) cats that roam the forest floor.
Plants and animals are important because they contribute, even if in a very small way, something of value to something else. Each living organism is part of a balance within its ecosystem. The plants and animals of the rainforest are very important for several reasons. The survival of the rainforest is extremely important to the Earth due to the functions that it performs. The animals and plants are important to the rainforest as they contribute to the way it works, without them there would be no rainforest ecosystem. Many of the plants and animals in the rainforest are endemic to it, which means that they are unique to their area. Because endemic species live in a specific area they can become more easily extinct, which means that they no longer exist.
The more animals and plants we lose, the fewer there are to contribute to individual ecosystems. The more individual ecosystems are damaged, the greater the negative effects to the Earth's environment as a whole.
Each plant and animal in the rainforest brings something to the rainforest environment that another plant or animal will rely on. This creates a balance of life in the rainforest that includes all living things. In this delicate balance, both the plant and animal species inhabit different layers of the rainforest. There is no dominant species in a tropical rainforest. This factor contributes to the extraordinary biodiversity that exists and prevents one species from taking over.
The Amazon rainforest contains one-third of all the species in the world. This makes the rainforest the most precious biological area in the world. Without the Amazon Rainforest, the habitat of all those species that rely on it would be lost. Among other things, the Amazon is the home of the endangered jaguar and approximately 1200 species of butterfly. One-fifth of the world's bird population lives in the Amazon rainforest.

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Question 1/5

1. What part of the rainforest rarely breaks?

The understorey

The emergent layer

The canopy

The forest floor


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