WHAT MAKES A RAINFOREST?
Each rainforest is unique, but there are certain features common to all tropical rainforests.
- Location: rainforests lie in the tropics [map].
- Rainfall: rainforests receive at least 80 inches (200 cm) of rain per year.
- Canopy: rainforests have a canopy, which is the layer of branches and leaves formed by closely spaced rainforest trees [picture]. Most of the plants and animals in the rainforest live in the canopy. The canopy may be 100 feet (30 m) above the ground.
- Biodiversity: rainforests have a high level of biological diversity or “biodiversity”. Biodiversity is the name for all living things—like plants, animals, and fungi—found in an ecosystem. Scientists believe that about half of the plants and animals found on Earth’s land surface live in rainforests.
- Symbiotic relationships between species: species in the rainforest often work together. In a symbiotic relationship, two different species benefit by helping each other—you can think of it as a partnership. For example, some plants produce small housing structures and sugar for ants. In return the ants protect the plants from other insects that want to feed on the plant’s leaves [picture].
By Rhett Butler
Date published: June 24, 2004 | Last updated: March 21, 2014