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Rainforests are the oldest living ecosystems on Earth composed of dense forest and tall trees usually located near the equator. This biome covers about 2% to 6% of the Earth’s land surface, yet half of the animal and plant species alive today live in this habitat.
See the fact file below for more information on the rainforests or alternatively, you can download our 26-page Rainforests worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
GEOGRAPHY and TYPES
- Of all the existing ecosystems on Earth, rainforests get the maximum amount of rainfall. Most rainforests are found in Asia, Africa and South America, with some even in Alaska and Canada.
- There are two types of rainforest: temperate, located at high-altitude, and tropical, which are abundantly seen around the world’s tropics and subtropics.
- Rainforests are found on every continent, except in Antarctica. In rainforest regions, rainfall in an average year can be between 250 cm and 450 cm.
- Tropical rainforests are densely-packed with trees, which means a raindrop can take up to 10 minutes to reach the floor after hitting the canopy. The average temperature in this type of rainforest remains between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Compared to tropical rainforests, temperate rainforests receive less rainfall per year. Generally, this type of rainforest exists where the climate is affected by warm ocean currents. Among the largest of this kind is located in North America, which runs along the Pacific coastline from northern California through Canada up to Alaska.
- In comparison to tropical rainforests with minimal changes in season, temperate rainforests experience short dry and long wet seasons. During summer, the temperature is quite hot and in winter, cold to freezing.
- In terms of layers, temperate rainforests are divided into three: the canopy, understory and forest floor. Tropical rainforests have the same, except with an additional emergent layer, which is the highest.
- The emergent layer consists of giant trees that usually have huge mushroom-shaped crowns above the canopy layer. These trees get the most amount of sunlight and are vulnerable in strong winds.
- The canopy layer has broad and irregularly-shaped crowns. Trees can grow between 60 to 90 feet above the ground and the branches are usually covered with epiphytes, lianas and vines.
- The understory is located below the canopy layer. It only receives 2% to 15% sunlight, making it a dark place. Young trees and herbaceous plants grow here. Lastly, the forest floor gets less than 2% sunlight.
- Experts say that in tropical rainforests, about 52% of nutrients are found in vegetation while the other 48% are in the soil. For temperate rainforests, 31% are in vegetation and the remaining 69% in the soil.
FLORA AND FAUNA
- Despite its limited scope, about two-thirds of the world’s plant species are found in tropical rainforests. Some plant species are more than 100 million years old, surviving the Ice Age.
- Due to minimal sunlight touching the forest floor, some plant species have adapted to survive in low-light conditions.
- Strangler figs are known to host themselves and grow on other trees to reach the sunlight above. Most plants have adapted to have smooth and thin bark suited to the humid and wet conditions. The foliage of shallow-rooted plants is commonly large, thick and waxy.
- Orchids are epiphytes that have evolved to grow on rocks and other plants or trees.
- The coffee plant originates from and is cultivated in Latin American rainforest regions with wet and dry seasons. They grow up to 30 feet and can live to 100 years old. Coffee is also grown in Africa and Indonesia.
- Poinsettia is a plant species commonly used as Christmas decor and is native to the tropical rainforests of Mexico and South America.
- Rubber trees cultivated for their natural latex are found in the rainforests of South America, specifically in the Amazon region of Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.
- Moreover, corpse flowers like rafflesia and titan arum, and carnivorous plants like the pitcher plants are also seen in this ecosystem.
- Bamboo, coconut, kapok, tualang, bougainvillea, jambu, passion flower, fig, mangrove, curare, oak, cypress, sesame, cedar, durian, bromeliad, and pepper commonly grow in rainforests.
- Rainforests are populated with diverse and specialized species of animals including insects, arachnids, worms, reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals. Each species occupies a particular stratum in the rainforest.
- Amphibians like frogs, toads, newts and salamanders live in rainforests. Reptiles including alligators, caimans, snakes and lizards, insects like ants, bugs, butterflies, mosquitoes and beetles, and mammals like gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gibbons all live in rainforests. Many species of bird and fish call the rainforest home, too.
- Many animal species have developed different kinds of defense mechanisms for times of danger. The most common is camouflage, for example, the Indian leaf butterfly, whose camouflaging is so good it’s virtually invisible. With their very slow movement, sloths are easy prey but they use the greenish layer of algae on their fur as camouflage. Some animals warn predators of their poison through bright colors and foul taste. These include the poison dart frog and monarch butterfly.
OTHER RAINFOREST FACTS
- There are more than 2,000 species of butterfly that can be found in the rainforests of South America. Most are found in the Amazon, which is the largest rainforest in the world. Due to its vastness, the Amazon rainforest alone can produce up to 20% of the world’s oxygen.
- About 8,000 species of plant exist in the rainforests of Central Africa.
- Aside from oxygen production, rainforests are critical in maintaining the limited supply of fresh drinking water. Moreover, world temperatures and weather patterns are also regulated by this biome.
- Aside from birds, bats play a crucial role in rainforest pollination.
- According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, about 70% of plants which can be used to treat cancer are found only in rainforests.
- Every day, rainforests are threatened, degraded or destroyed through human activity including ranching, logging, poaching, mining and agriculture. Due to deforestation, about half of the original 6 million square miles of rainforests are gone.
- Each year, more than 56,000 square miles of natural rainforest is lost. As a result of this depletion rate, 5% to 10% of tropical rainforest species will be lost per decade.
- Most rainforests around the world are cut down to make way for crops like palm fruit and cattle farming. In the Amazon, 80% of deforested areas are occupied by cattle pastures.
- Commercial fishing also threatens rainforests. Moreover, bio-piracy and smuggling of plants and animals has also led to a decline in wildlife populations in rainforests.
- In recent decades, large hydroelectric projects have also contributed to forest loss.
- The destruction of rainforests has also impacted the lives and cultures of many indigenous people who have lost their traditional land to make way for other activities and who also struggle to find food from the fragmented or degraded forest.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about rainforests across 26 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Rainforests worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the rainforests which are the oldest living ecosystems on Earth composed of dense forest and tall trees usually located near the equator. This biome covers about 2% to 6% of the Earth’s land surface, yet half of the animal and plant species alive today live in this habitat.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Rainforest Facts
- Inside the Rainforest
- Plants Making Food
- Save the Rainforest
- Word Power
- Flowering Rainforest
- Rainforest Strata
- Mapping Rainforests
- Threats and Treats
- Traditional or Modern?
- Environmental Issues
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Link will appear as Rainforests Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 14, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.