IntroductionThe layer of a tropical rainforest where plants form an umbrella type of overhang that rises high above the ground is called the Canopy Layer. What makes up most of the Canopy Layer is a tangled mix of vegetation including branches, vines and trees of different sizes. When light hits this layer, the tree leaves at the top sometimes get burnt as they rise up as much as 150 feet (45 meters). It is not natural causes as much as humans who are destroying the rainforest, a problem that adults and kids should be very aware of. Among the interesting facts and information below is the answer to why photosynthesis plays an important role in the Canopy Layer.
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Canopy Layer General Facts
- The Canopy Layer lies right beneath the Emergent Layer of the tropical rainforest and above both the Understory and Floor layer.
- About 80% of the sunlight is absorbed at the Canopy Layer, leaving the below layers with very little sunlight.
- Most of the rainfall is captured by the Canopy Layer and very little gets to the plants at the lower levels. The plants at lower levels must survive on the excess rain that trickles off of the trees and drips from the leaves.
Canopy Layer Animal Facts
- Food is plentiful at this layer and animals such as squirrel monkeys, bats, snakes, tree frogs and toucans eat the fruit and seeds from the trees.
- Many animals take shelter in this layer from predators on the Floor layer as well as from strong winds and rainstorms.
- Animals in the Canopy Layer often need to fly, jump, glide and hop to get around between the gaps in the trees.
- Because of the compact nature of the leaves and branches of the flora in the Canopy Layer, it makes seeing more than a few feet away very difficult. Songs and high pitched calls help the animals in the Canopy Layer communicate with one another when they cannot see each other.
Canopy Layer Plant Facts
- Found abundantly throughout the Canopy Layer, Lianas are thick, climbing vines that attach to trees and grow upwards towards the sunlight. Several types of this flora can be found in the rainforest including philodendron, Strychnos toxifera and rattan palms. Other than providing protection and support to top-heavy trees, these plants are cut and used to make woody items like baskets and wicker furniture.
- Colorful vegetation including orchids, mosses, ferns and lichens grow on tree trunks and branches. Many of these are called Epiphytes or air plants, plants that grown on trees for both support and to reach the rainwater.
- Photosynthesis, the process of converting sunlight into energy, is abundant in the Canopy Layer thanks to the countless leaves at this level. When carbon dioxide and water are converted into oxygen at a fast pace, the result is plentiful fruits and flowers that attract many species of animals.
- Cross-pollination of plant species in the Canopy Layer is common. This results when flying animals such as birds, bats or insects feed on plant nectar from one plant and deliver it to the pistil of another.