Tropical rain forests contain extremely diverse species and a highly productive community. Tragically, human consumption has tremendously reduced the amount of tropical rain forest in the world.
A few areas in the world contain the most natural and diverse
rainforests. Those that have survived include forests in the Amazon basin of South America, the Congo River basin of central Africa, and the larger Southeast Asian islands. These areas are true rain forests because they are rain forests all year round, unlike other rain forests with seasonal climates.
Tropical rain forests can date back hundreds of millions of year. The evolution that occurred during this huge amount of time has led to an amazingly diverse ecosystem filled
with many different creatures.
The habitats of tropical rain forests are often broken down into layers determined by altitude. Many species live high up in the trees while others live in the soil, below the surface of the forest floor. On the floor of the forest, most plants cannot survive, so the area tends to be very open for movement.
Each year, a rainforest can produce up to 90 tons of biomass per hectare. Despite this, tropical rain and high temperatures caused rain forests to lose many of their nutrients long ago.
Rain forest ecosystems are made possible by the relationship between decomposers and roots of living plants. Because they lack nutrients, rain forests must survive by recycling their nutrients. Long roots allow trees to capture most nutrients, and a high percentage of nutrients are retained.
Euopean Tropical Rain Forest Research Network
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Rainforest Action Network