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exotic plants and animals | Tropical Rainforest Biome: Plants and Animals |...
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Even though tropical rain forests cover less than 6 percent of the earth’s surface, scientists estimate that at least half of all animal species in the world live there. In fact, there are so many millions of species of rain forest animals–mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects–that scientists have not been able to count them all. Thousands of rainforest species, especially insects, have yet to be discovered. So, it will undoubtedly take many decades for science to completely answer the question of “which animals live in rainforests.”
Q: Is it true that dozens of animal species a day become extinct in tropical rainforests?
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Although tropical rain forests tend to grab the ecological headlines, tropical dry forests rival their more famous cousins with unique plant and animal life that must struggle to survive under harsh conditions. The severe seasonal droughts that help define this forest type have led to some unusual animal adaptations among certain amphibians and insects such as estivation, a summer-long sleep similar to hibernation. Other animals show increased mobility as they seek out distant water holes and creek beds to wait out the scorching heat until the rains return. Q: Is it true that dozens of animal species a day become extinct in tropical rainforests?
Photo provided by Flickrexotic plants and animals | Tropical Rainforest Biome: Plants and Animals |...
Photo provided by FlickrKricher J (1997) A Neotropical Companion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
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Scientists believe that there is a great diversity of animals because rainforests are the oldest ecosystems on earth. Some rainforests in Southeast Asia have been around for at least 100 million years, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. During the Ice Ages, the last of which ended about 10,000 years ago, the frozen areas of the North and South Poles spread over much of the earth, causing a high rate of animal extinction. But the giant freeze did not reach a number of refuges in tropical rainforests. Therefore, rainforest plants and animals continued to evolve, developing into the most diverse and complex ecosystems on earth.Life based in tropical trees has led to the evolution of several peculiar adaptations. In New World rain forests various mammal groups, such as many of the monkeys and some of the porcupines, have prehensile tails; this feature aids in mobility but also allows them to hang down to reach food that might otherwise be inaccessible. Some Asian rain forests are especially known for animals with the ability to glide. Borneo alone has over 30 species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians that can glide from one tree to another, which is a very efficient way of getting around in a rain forest. Mutual interactions between plants and animals are characteristic of rain forests. Many animal groups, but especially insects and birds, pollinate rain forest trees, as wind is not an effective pollinator for most plant species in this relatively closed environment. The insects receive food from nectar and other substances, and in return pollinate the next flowers they visit.The nearly perfect conditions for life also helped contribute to the great number of species. With temperatures constant at 75-80°F year-round, animals don't have to worry about freezing during cold winters or finding shade in the hot summers. They rarely have to search for water, as rain falls almost every day in tropical rainforests. Some rainforest species have populations that number in the millions. Other species consist of only a few dozen individuals. Living in limited areas, most of these species are endemic, or found nowhere else on earth. The Maues marmoset, a species of monkey, wasn't discovered until recently. Its entire population lives within a few square miles in the Amazon rainforest. It's so small, it could sit in a person's hand!There are about 10 -2 0 species of trees in temperate rainforests that are mostly coniferous, meaning they have needles. Trees in temperate rainforests can live much longer than humans, some live for up to 1000 years! Tropical rainforests have a bigger variety of trees, hundreds of species in fact! These trees are mostly broadleaf trees and have a shorter lifespan. They usually live for 50 - 100 years.