There is only a specific region on the planet, usually around the equator, where tropical rainforests exist. Tropical Rainforests exist when conditions are humid, warm, and wet with rainfall totaling 8-14 feet (2.44-4.27 meters) per year. What makes tropical rainforests so interesting are the unique climate conditions found there and the four distinct rainforest layers of vegetation. When you read the kid-friendly facts below, you'll discover why the Emergent, Canopy, Understudy, and Forest Floor layers are all important to the ecosystem of the rainforest.
In this category of Tropical Rainforest Facts we list interesting facts about the four distinct layers of rainforest vegetation. On this page we have an overview of these layers and here you will find links to more detailed information pages about each layer including the plant (flora) and animal life that exist there.
Emergent Layer Facts
- Oversized trees reaching heights of 150-250 feet (45.7-76.2 meters) tall are found in the Emergent Layer. Together, the top branches and leaves from Emergent layer trees form an umbrella or mushroom shape above the thick Canopy layer below.
- The tree trunks are as impressive as the height of the tree, with circumferences reaching 16 feet (4.9 meters).
- Common animals found living at the Emergent Level include sloths, monkeys, bats, birds, and butterflies.
- Bright sunlight mixed with high temperatures causes many of the tree tops to become burnt.
Canopy Layer Facts
- The main layer of a tropical rainforest is the Canopy Layer. At 60-90 feet (18.29-27.43 meters) above the ground, it gets its name from the thick dense covering layer it forms over the bottom two layers.
- Many leaves and branches intertwine in a maze-like fashion to form this layer where sunlight becomes more limited.
- Food is plentiful in the Canopy Layer and is therefore home to most of the animals and organisms of the rainforest. Tree frogs, Toucans, Coati, and snakes are commonly found here. Because of the densely packed trees and branches, many animals seek this level for shelter as well.
Understory Layer Facts
- As the third level from the sunlight, the Understory Level is quite dark. It only gets 2-15% of the sunlight that reaches the layers above.
- The Understory Layer has a heavy concentration of insects. The hot, damp and humid conditions in this layer are perfect for mosquitoes and other insects to breed and thrive.
- Red-eyed tree frogs, Jaguars, Leopards, Fruit Bats, Boa Constrictors (among others) all live in the Understory Layer and all use camouflage to disguise themselves.
- Common house plants that don't require much light such as zebra plants, peace lilies, and philodendrons come from the Understory Layer.
Forest Floor Layer Facts
- Because of the extreme lack of sunlight that is able to penetrate into the Forest Floor Layer, very little is able to grow here. The air is humid and there is no wind or breeze.
- Leaves and other organic matter decay very quickly in such a dark, damp and still environment. Fungi can feed on the decaying matter as can numerous types of small insects.
- Scorpions, Green Iguanas, Army Ants, Giant Armadillos, and Giant Anteaters are all foragers who are well adapted to digging their flood out of the ground. These types of animals thrive in a habitat such as the Forest Floor. They do spend a lot of time looking at the ground which can make them easy targets for predators.