Monday, September 22, 2008

Earth Series – Rain Forests

The rainforest in Peru

So, the earth series is continuing. I’m thinking I’ll handle some of the bigger better known ecosystems first and then delve into some of the smaller ones on a more intermittent basis. I hope that suits everyone. As much as I adore the earth I never intended this Blog to be only an earth conservation type work. That said, I’ve been toying with the idea of introducing some economics to the Blog as well. Given the current situation in the country and the world today I think it’s certainly worth taking a closer look at. Today, however, it’s the earth’s rainforests.



This remarkable ecosystem traverses the equator. There are rainforests in Central and South America, Africa, Southern Asia, and Australia. The spread sounds bigger than it is, though, the rainforests of the earth actually only take up about 6% of the planets space. Now, here’s the big. Even though they make up only 6% of the earth they hold over 50% of the entire planet’s species of plants and animals. Devastation of these areas has an enormous impact on the entire world’s populations. Each individual rainforest is home to thousands of species that exist only in those specific environments. In fact, in Australia’s rainforest over 80% of all the species there exist only there, they can be found no where else on the planet.

Some of the characteristics that define a rainforest include; climate, precipitation, canopy structure, and complex symbiotic relationships. The latter is when you have two species that work together to benefit one another. For example, you may have a species of ant that lives exclusively in a specific plant. The plant provides the housing necessary for the ants, and in return, the ants defend the plant from other would be preying insects. If one disappears they both disappear. When you have large populations of symbiotic species in a limited area and you destroy that area the species will become extinct.

So why else are the rainforests important besides the fact that out of all of those unique species 1 of every 4 provides medicine of one kind or another? We already know from yesterday’s post that despite the vast number of trees present in the rainforests it is actually the ocean’s algae that provide the planet with its primary source of oxygen. So, what else could it be? There is also the idea of water, hello people, rain. Did you know that the trees of the rainforest are what create the
conditions
for the high
humidity
within
the
rainforests?
That humidity builds and causes rain which in turn feeds the planet’s hydrologic cycle (the water cycle). Rainforests receive anywhere from 80 – 430 inches of rain each year. That water is responsible for creating moisture in our atmosphere. When the forests are cut down, less moisture is replaced into the atmosphere, which means less rain, which means more droughts. Seeing the connection here?

Well, now we know…extinction bad, drought bad, no medicine also bad…rainforests good. I think I’ll close out today’s blog with a few pictures of plant and animal species that live in the rainforests. Until later then, enjoy.

The Jaguar of Belize - Endangered

The Tomato frog of Madagascar

The Praying mantis of Madagascar

Bromeliads - One bromeliad was found to contain several small beetles, crane flies, earwigs, a frog, a cockroach, spiders, fly larvae, a millipede, a scorpion, woodlice and an earthworm!

The Green bush viper


The Asian pied hornbill


The African forest elephant

Venus fly trap

Dragonfly - Recently scientists have discovered that dragonflies migrate like birds.

The Beetle - More than 450,000 species of Beetles exist throughout the world

Orchids – There are over 20,000 known species

2 comments:

Ryan said...

Must...have...Tomato frog!

maeve63 said...

Tomato frog, mmm juicy.

Of course you know I'm kidding. It would probably give me heartburn.