IntroductionTropical Rainforests, such as the Amazon, are found near the equator in Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia. The tropical rainforest floor layer, or forest floor, is the ground layer of this biome. It lies beneath the emergent, canopy and understory layers, which is the reason why almost no sunlight reaches this area. As you read the facts below, you will learn what animals live at this layer, the flora found there, what the conditions are like, and why this layer is so important. The information is presented in a simple list format where both adults and kids will appreciate the interesting facts.
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Floor Layer Decomposition Facts
- The forest layer holds the key to the proper functioning of the entire rainforest ecosystem. It is where the important process of decomposition takes place.
- Because of the dark and moist conditions, plants, leaves, animals and other forest remains decay very quickly.
- Micro-organisms like Saprophytes recycle and feed on the decaying matter. This in turn begins the food chain, or the circle of life, for both plants and animals to survive.
Floor Layer Animal Facts
- Animals that live on the floor layer are some of the largest in the rainforest and are a mix of both carnivores and herbivores.
- Not all tropical rainforests have the same animals, but jungle cats of one species or another inhabit all of them except Australias rainforests. Depending on the continent, you will find tigers, pumas, leopards, jaguars, and ocelots. Unfortunately, the jaguar and the tiger are currently endangered animals.
- Some other species that thrive on the tropical rainforest floor include elephants, mongoose, tapirs, Southern Cassowaries, okapis, armadillos, rainforest pigs and gorillas.
- Rainforest pigs include wild boars and warthogs. They dig large holes in the ground, wait for a rain storm to attract insects and fish to the water, and feed on them.
- A wide variety of insect, amphibian, and reptile species also inhabit the forest floor.
- The scorpion is a forest floor insect that feeds on other insects and spiders but has to watch out for snakes and other animals.
- Army ants, the most dangerous kind of ants, call the rainforest floor home. Their food supply is plentiful as they will move in colonies to attack and eat anything they come in contact with, even humans.
Floor Layer Plant Facts
- With only 2 percent of sunlight hitting the floor layer, very little vegetation can survive in such darkness. Common among the flora at this layer is moss and low lying plants such as ferns and ginger.
- Mushrooms and fungi thrive in warm, moist conditions and are able to grow by living inside or next to decaying trees and plants. They survive on nutrients from decaying matter by recycling the important materials.
- One interesting plant that relies on animals for reproduction is the strangler fig. When birds feast on this floor layer plant and then fly away, the seeds are dropped in the birds waste. These seeds settle into crevices high up in the trees. The plant then grows both upwards towards the sunlight and down to the forest floor.