A primary tropical
rainforest is commonly segmented into three levels: the canopy, the
understory and the forest floor.
The canopy is the
highest of the three levels, and it is perhaps the most exciting,
considering the wildlife which resides there. Normally, vegetation
is very dense and is comprised of treetops, vines and other
epiphytic plants all competing for sunlight. Most species of New
World monkeys are found primarily in the canopy of the Central and
South American rainforests, along with sloths, and the beautiful
Scarlet Macaw, and toucans.
The understory of
the forest includes the trunks and small branches of trees, and all
the plants found in between the ground and the sun drenched
treetops. The lower segments of vines, or lianas (sometimes as
thick as a human thigh!), are found hanging throughout the
understory along with thousands of other epiphytes which cling to
the vines, branches and tree trunks. At night the understory is
alive with bats (the most common mammal in the rainforest!) hunting
for insects and fruit.
The forest floor is
the lowest of the three levels, and it is home to massive tree roots
and buttresses, ferns, and other land plants, like the Heliconia.
It is here that you might be able find the largest animals of the
New World tropical rainforests, the Tapir (a relative to the horse)
and large cats like the Jaguar prowling around.
Did you know that
it may take up to TEN minutes for rain to reach the rainforest
You may hear it
start to rain, but the actual raindrops have a very long journey
through the thick canopy. But once it breaks through, prepare to