Biome PresentationTropical Rainforests Elena Whitlock and Ceci Tucker http://www.des.ucdavis.edu/esp133/rainforest.jpg
Location • Tropical rainforests are located in a band around the equator, mostly in the area between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. This 3,000 mile wide band is called the “tropics.” Tropical rainforests are found in South America, West Africa, Australia, Southern India, and Southeast Asia. One specific rainforest, the Amazon Rainforest, is located in the upper section of Brazil south of the equator. The Amazon jungle is the world’s largest tropical rainforest and cover the basin of the Amazon, the world’s second longest river.
Climate • Rainforests belong to the tropical wet climate group. The temperature in a rain forest rarely gets higher than 93 degrees Fahrenheit and or drops below 68 degrees Fahrenheit • Average humidity is between 77 and 88% • Rainfall is often more than 100 inches per year but there is usually a brief season of less rain
Species • Many species of plant and animal life can be found in the rain forest. Common characteristics found among mammals and birds (as well as reptiles and amphibians) include adaptations to a life in the trees. Other characteristics are bright colors and sharp patterns, loud vocalizations, and diets heavy on fruits. The Amazon river basin rainforest contains a wider variety of plant and animal life than any other biome in the world.
Species (Cont.) • Insects- Monarch butterfly, the longhorn beetle, green grasshopper, and wolf spider • Mammals- Jaguar, sloths, howler monkeys, bats, and spider monkeys • Birds- Queztal, macaw, hummingbirds, eagles, toucans, and parrots • Reptiles- Anacondas, iguanas, lizards, boas, coral snakes, and the poison arrow frog • Fish- Electric eel and piranha • Plants- Liana vines, Kapok trees, palms, ferns, mosses, herbs, fungi, bananas, avocados, pineapples, and papayas
Ecological Importance • Tropical rainforests are a critical link in the ecological chains of our earth’s biosphere. For instance, it produces about 40% of the earth’s oxygen, one in four pharmaceuticals comes from a plant in the tropical rainforests, 1400 rainforest plants are believed to offer cures for cancer, and contains over 50% of the earth’s animal, insect species, and plants. The rainforest cools the planet and balances rainfall and fresh water production.
Economic Importance • The Amazon rainforest is very important to the South American economy. It is one of the most important producers of natural rubber in the world. In the twentieth century mining became a great economic sector in the rainforest. The pharmaceutical industry also has much importance in the Amazon (25% of medicine used today comes from plants in the rainforest). Tourism is also a sector that can bring great economic benefits to the region along with environmental protection. Biological trade is one of the worst activities in the Amazon because it exploits the wildlife. However, wood cutting continues to be a major economic activity.
Major Threats • Commercial logging is the single largest cause of rainforest destruction, both directly and indirectly • Clearing land for grazing animals • Subsistence farming • Governments and their unplanned and uncoordinated development of natural resources • Most rainforests are cleared by chainsaws, bulldozers, and fires for its timber value and then are followed by farming and ranching operations, or even by world companies such as Georgia Pacific and Texaco • We are losing about 137 plant, animal, and insect species every day due to rainforest deforestation
Environmental Issues • The destruction of the rainforest has followed the pattern of seeing natural land and natural world peoples as resources to be used, and seeing wilderness as idle, empty, and unproductive. Destruction to the rainforest is causing not only the extinction of plant and animal species, it is also wiping out indigenous peoples who live there. We are now facing air and water pollution, soil erosion, malaria epidemics, and the release of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to name a few issues. Fewer rainforests mean less rain, less oxygen for us to breathe, and an increased threat from global warning.