Sunday, 14 October 2007

How have animals adapted to the conditions of the Tropical Rainforests?

Lesson Objectives:
  • To know the names of at least one one animal that you could find in each layer of the tropical rainforest.
  • To be able to give a detailed summary of the ways in which at least two animals have adapted to life in the Tropical Rainforest.
You did some independent research about a variety of rainforest animals - as soon as I receive your PowerPoints, I'll post them here! To keep us going until then, here are a few notes about some of the plants and animals of the rainforests...

Parasol Ants (forest floor)

Leaf-cutter, or parasol ants, climb trees up to 100-feet tall and cut out small pieces of leaves. They then carry these fragments, weighing as much as 50 times their body weight, back to their homes. Sometimes they must travel 200 feet, equal to an average human walking about 6 miles with 5,000 lbs. on his/her back!

These ants don't eat the leaves they have collected, but instead bury them underground. The combination of leaves and substances that the ants produce such as saliva allows a type of fungus to grow. This fungus is the only food that the ants need to eat.

The Jaguar (forest floor and undercanopy)

The Jaguar is both a good climber and a good swimmer. It pounces from trees on its prey, and is at home both in the understorey and on the forest floor.

Toucans and Parrots (canopy)

Toucans and Parrots have large beaks. These beaks give them a great advantage over other birds with smaller beaks. The fruits and nuts from many trees have evolved with a tough shell to protect them from predators. In turn toucans and parrots developed large strong beaks, which serves as a nutcracker and provides them with many tasty meals.

The three-toed sloth (canopy)



The three-toed sloth is born with brown fur, but you would never know this by looking at it. The green algae that makes its home in the sloth's fur helps it to blend in with the tops of the trees, the canopy, where it makes its home. But green algae isn't the only thing living in a sloth's fur; it is literally "bugged" with a variety of insects. 978 beetles were once found living on one sloth!

The sloth has other clever adaptations. Famous for its snail-like pace; it is one of the slowest-moving animals on earth. (It can even take up to a month to digest its food!) Although its tasty meat would make a good meal for jaguars and other predators, most do not notice the sloth as it hangs quietly in the trees, high up in the canopy.

The Woolly Spider Monkey (canopy)

The spider monkey is a wonderful acrobat which can leap six metres from tree to tree. It has a special tail that can be used like a hand to hang from trees or to reach out for fruit (this is called a prehensile tail).

The Harpy Eagle (emergent trees)

The Harpy is the largest eagle in the world. It hunts monkeys, sloths and snakes by swooping low over the canopy. When its sharp eyes spot prey, it dives into the branches and quickly snatches up its next meal.

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