Of the four tropical rainforest layers, the Emergent Layer, or sunlit zone, is the layer where the most sunlight reaches and the tallest plants and trees reach. Just like kids who are out in the sun need sunscreen to protect their skin, the trees and plants at this height need waxy leaves to protect them from the hot sun. Because this layer is very windy, what commonly happens is that seeds and pollen from the vegetation of this layer get scattered and blown throughout other rainforest layers, This helps pollination can take place.
Below we will take a look at why birds and insects are so important to the Emergent Layer. We also list interesting facts about specific animals and flora that can be found in this layer.
Emergent Layer General Facts
- Birds and insects living in the Emergent Layer are crucial for the well-being of the rainforest because they help pollinate the plants in the rainforest.
- Trees at this top layer can rise 100 to 250 feet (30 meters to 76 meters) from the ground while the diameter of some of these trees can reach 16 feet (4.8 meters).
- Because the Emergent Layer is the highest layer, temperature and climate fluctuations are common.
Emergent Layer Plant Facts
- Although flowers are not plentiful among the flora of the Emergent Layer, the Orchid thrives in the lower areas throughout this layer.
- The Kapok Tree is a hardwood evergreen tree that provides shelter to many of the Emergent Layer birds and insects. It produces a bright flower with broad leaves.
- The Brazil Nut Tree stands high above the rest in the Emergent Layer, particularly in the Amazon. It actually produces a large fruit that, when it falls to the ground can reach speeds of 50 mph (80 km). With the ability to produce large quantities of fruit, it is surprising that only one known animal can crack open the fruits tough exterior, the Agoutis.
Emergent Layer Animal Facts
- Animals that live in the Emergent Layer do not typically weigh much. The trees have to be able to support the animals as they move around from tree to tree.
- Sloths and spider monkeys are among the several types of animals that live in the Emergent Layer. Where the sloth can actually have moss grow on it because it moves so slowly, the spider monkey uses all four of its appendages to zip through the trees.
- The Emergent Layer is home to the Hummingbird, the smallest bird on earth. They are known for beating their wings so quickly that it makes a humming sound. They also have an extremely fast heart rate that beats between 50 and 75 times per second.
- The brightly colored Macaw, a member of the parrot family, nests in holes of the trees high up in the Emergent Layer. They eat a variety of nuts, seeds, fruits, and insects.
- The goliath bird-eating tarantula comes out during the rainy season and hunts small animals of the Emergent Layer. It uses venom to paralyze its victims.
- Other animals in the Emergent Layer of the tropical rainforest include the Harpy Eagle, bats, snakes, butterflies, and various insects.