Structure of the Amazon Rainforest

[tab: Structure Description of the Structure the Amazon Rainforest ]

Description of the Structure the Amazon Rainforest

A mass of vegetation clambering on top of and all around itself vines everywhere trees of very shape and size and massive leafed palms drooping overhead there does not seem to be any structural order to rainforest vegetation at all but there are poorly defined layers within the confusion.

When flying over tambopata on arrival from Cuzco you are greeted weather permitting with a spectacular view from the plane of a carpet of green treetops spreading beneath you only broken by snaking lea colored rivers this carpet or roof of treetops is the rainforest canopy and in Tambopata it is approximately thirty two meters above the ground it is by no means an broken blanked of leaves indeed visitors are often surprised how much light actually reaches the lower levels of the under story the high winds associated with friajes and violent electric storms mean that are many light gaps within the forest (many species actually rely on this fact for survival) emergent trees reach heights of fifty meters in our area and many of the large buttressed and huge trunked trees visible from the trails are in fact examples of emergent the under story or lower canopy is largely comprised of palms and small trees and generally reaches no higher than twenty five meters the herbaceous layer at ground level forms the final living strata below which there is a thin covering of humus dead organic meters covering the ground beneath the layer of dead leaves lies a fascinating paradox all this rich tangle of life stands on only a few inches of fertile soil ninety three percent of all nutrients in the rainforest are locked up within the living organisms that inhabit it beneath the crust of seemingly inadequate soil often lie meters of inert clay Everything I have is no more than a basic generalization and simplifies a very complex and varied subject within the region of Madre de Dios there are several different Habitat types ranging from the cloud forests of the Andean foothills to the west to tropical savannah grasslands and pampas to the east on the border with Bolivia However most visitors to tambopata will spent all their time in the LOWLAND TROPICAL MOIST FOREST around the lodges of the tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers so it is this habitat that this guide focuses on


Trees and many others plants in the rainforest seem to be involved in a constant struggle upwards to get at that most essential resource sunlight many plants have evolved very ingenious ways to get there first and stay there uninhibited one way of ensuring a quick passage to the canopy and being nearer to the sun is to use an established tree to get there eliminating much of the time needed to grow a trunk of your own and once there to spread out quickly and freely


Do this very successfully many starting out as shrubs then latching on to a nearby tree and climbing up to the canopy literally thousands of vines and lianas (ropes like vines that drape themselves all over their hosts) can occupy a few trees is a small area sometimes when a trees dies it is partially held up by its vines for years afterwards other vines like the climbing Aroids (lilies) and philodendrons (cheese plats ) are bole or trunk climbers latching themselves firmly onto the trunks of large trees climbing above the herbaceous layer while still in contact with the earth below


Tree grows a hollow trunk and limbs specially to provide a home for its personal gardeners and protectors its resident colony of fire ants in return for a safe home the ants clear an area a meter radius around the tree is base keeping it void of all vines and other plants they also attack viciously (reminding anyone who forgotten why they are called fire ants ) anything foolish enough to land on or touch the tree

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Sunday October 6th, 2013 en


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