The Rainforest Ecosystem (Amazon Project Part 2)


The Amazon is the richest ecosystem on the planet, as 50% of all plant and animal species are found there. Over 100 million years old, it is 30 times the size of Great Britain and is the largest basin on Earth.

The Amazon is partly made up of well-designed and adapted trees. These millions of trees grow in four main layers. The top layer of trees is made up of very tall trees reaching heights of over 50 meters called Emergents. They have specially designed buttress roots so they do not fall over. The next layer is called the canopy, with trees growing to around 30 meters. This is where most of the animals live; flowers grow and the layer that gets the most light. The next layer is called the under canopy with trees growing to around 10meters. Here it is quite dark. The last layer is the shrub layer. Here it is very quiet and plants may only get sunlight for a few minutes of the day, so they have very dark green leaves and turn to face the sun.


The trees also play a major part in the nutrients cycle. Most of the trees are deciduous, but they all lose there leaves at different times of the year, so the forest floor is always covered in leaves all year round. Decomposers then eat these leaves. They then excrete and put nutrients back into the soil. The trees then suck up the nutrients so they can grow. Sometimes over plants will grow on the trees, and suck nutrients from their host tree. The tree then loses it leaves and the cycle starts again.

The Amazon is also the wettest and the hottest place on Earth. The water cycle help keeps the rainforest alive. As the sun heats the ground, it heats the air above it. The warm air then rises, cools, and condenses, causing convectional rainfall. Some of the rain is evaporated off the leaves or held as moisture in the leaves. Some water runs off the leaves and is absorbed into the soil. The rest runs off into the river. Only about 20% of the rain makes it back into the river.

Clouds over Forests in the Amazon

Now this is not happening. Deforestation breaks the cycles. The rain penetrates the ground directly, washing away the nutrients in the soil. 20% of the Amazon rainforest land in 1970 has now been turned into wasteland. Will the rainforest recover? Deforestation needs to stop now.


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