Tropical rainforests are biomes in which temperatures generally maintain an average of about 80 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the entirety of the year, the environment stays moist due to consistent heavy rainfall, and the conditions are consequently idyllic for the dense growth of vegetation. Tropical rainforests typically receive about 60-4000 inches of precipitation each year. The combination of high temperatures and humidity create the biome that offers the most biodiversity of any biome (“Rainforest: Mission: Biomes.”).
All biomes fitting the name ‘tropical rainforest’ are located in the Tropics between the latitudinal lines for the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The largest tropical rainforests are thus found near the Equator in South America, Southeast Asia, and West Africa. Over one third of the world’s tropical rainforests are in Brazil (“Rainforest: Mission: Biomes.”).

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This biome is known for its layered vegetation; the topmost layer is the canopy created by trees reaching heights of over 250 feet. Thick vines, draping among the branches in search of sunlight also make up the canopy layer. The rainforest canopy is often thick enough to preclude much sunlight from making its way through towards the ground. The second layer is referred to as the understory. Plants in this layer, like ferns, orchids, palms, and smaller trees, receive minimal sunlight and rainfall, and quite often do well as houseplants. The third and last layer of the rainforest vegetation is called the floor. The floor is constantly covered with rapidly decomposing wet leaves and other organic matter; this process makes the ground nutrient-rich. Due to the scarce sunlight that makes it through the canopy, however, few plants are able to grow on the rainforest floor (“Rainforest: Mission: Biomes.”).

The incredible biodiversity present in tropical rainforests extends to the myriad of animal and insect species dwelling within the canopy, understory, and floor. Biologists estimate that rainforests provide a habitat for approximately half of all species on Earth (“Measuring the Daily Destruction of the World’s Rainforests”). Insects vastly outnumber rainforest animals in species and sheer numbers; stick bugs, ants, mosquitoes, butterflies—insects thrive in the environment of the tropical rainforest biome. Most animals inhabiting the tropical rainforests have adapted to the trees, and many animals also have brightly colored features, loud vocalizations, and fruit-centric diets (Michael).

The destruction of the world’s tropical rainforests negatively impact the general environment through actions of deforestation. The burning or chopping of substantial areas of the tropical rainforests goes beyond the general ill advisement for the environment though—the biome is virtually annihilated when trees are removed due to the nutrient-poor soil. Michael (2001) reports that a study found that over 99% of the nutrients present in the Amazon rainforest are held within the roots. The removal of the trees therefore removes those nutrients from the biome, and then there is only a very limited use of the cleared land before the soil is stripped of all nutrients and lays barren. Removal of the tropical rainforests is not easily remedied by planting another tree, or acres of trees. The formation of these biomes took centuries, millennia even. National Geographic (“Deforestation Facts”) declares that even worse than the desecration of the land and trees, the loss of habit and endangerment of millions of species will result with the continued destruction of the tropical rainforest biomes. Some scientists remain optimistic about the future of the tropical rainforest biomes. They state that small measures are being taken to preserve the environment, and that, combined with the growing global conscience, should instigate further efforts to save this very special biome (“Measuring the Daily Destruction of the World’s Rainforests”).

    References
  • “Deforestation Facts – National Geographic.” National Geographic. Web. 24 Nov. 2015. Retrieved from http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation-overview/
  • “Measuring the Daily Destruction of the World’s Rainforests.” Scientific American Global RSS. 19 Nov. 2009. Web. 24 Nov. 2015. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-talks-daily-destruction/
  • Michael, G. “Rainforest Biomes.” Rainforest Biomes. Blue Planet Biomes, 2001. Web. 24 Nov. 2015. Retrieved from http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/rainforest.htm
  • “Rainforest: Mission: Biomes.” Rainforest : Mission: Biomes. NASA Earth Observatory. Web. Retrieved from http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Experiments/Biome/biorainforest.php