Above left: Vegetation layers in the tropical forest. Lower growing plants often have large leaves to capture as much light
as possible. Above right: Looking through palm fronds towards small tree trunks in the rainforest of Costa Rica. Photos courtesy Naomi Woods.
Many rainforest trees are rare, because there are so many different kinds of trees that there is only room for a few individuals of each species. This is well illustrated by the Peruvian forest described on the previous page, where every other tree in a one-hectare plot belonged to a different species. Trees in the tropical forest also have relatively short life-spans. Fallen trees create small gaps in the vegetation where air and soil temperatures are higher because of increased exposure to sunlight. Specialized communities of plants grow in these microclimates, eventually shifting from bushy shrubs to full sized rainforest trees.
[biodiversity] [climate] [soil]
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