What Are Rainforests?

There are two types of rainforests - temperate and tropical. Tropical and temperate rainforests have some things in common. Both have very dense vegetation. Trees in temperate and tropical rainforests have trunks that flare out at the bottom and both types of rainforests are endangered biomes.

Round and Round Image Credit: National Park Service (Tutuila Rainforest, American Samoa) " image="image1">
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Rainforests also recycle their water! During the day, water in the rainforest evaporates and rises where it condenses and forms clouds above the trees. When enough water vapor collects in the clouds, it rains! Temperate Rainforests

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Temperate rainforests are found near coastlines. The largest temperate rainforest stretches for over 1,000 miles along the coast of the Pacific Northwest from Oregon to Alaska. Smaller temperate rainforests can be found in Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Japan and Great Britain.

Image Credit: National Park Service (Hoh Rainforest, Washington) " image="image1">

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Because temperate rainforests are near oceans, they are wet and cool and can receive up to 100 inches of rain a year. The moist, cool air of the temperate rainforest helps support many different types of plants and animals.

Tropical Rainforests

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Tropical rainforests are found near the equator. It rains every day and tropical rainforests can get as much as 400 inches of rain each year. The seasons don"t change and the average temperature is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. About half of the world"s tropical rainforests are in Latin America. Other tropical rainforests can be found in Asia, Africa and the Pacific islands.




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Tropical rainforests are warm and wet. The soil in the rainforest is nutrient-rich. The warm, wet conditions cause vegetation and animals to rot very quickly once they"ve died. Decaying plants and animals get recycled back into the soil. Lots of Life

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More than half of the world"s species live in tropical rainforests. Some scientists think the number could be as high as 90 percent! The moisture and the warm temperatures in the tropical rainforest are perfect for sustaining lots of different species of plants and animals.

What"s the Point?

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Trees in the tropical rainforest can grow very tall. Leaves are usually thick and have pointed "drip tips" to help rain roll off them. Tree trunks are wide and flared and tree bark is thin and smooth. Some trees have roots that are above the ground.

Ecosystem in a Plant

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The tropical rainforest is also home to bromeliads. These are plants that collect water in their centers. The water forms pools that can support miniature ecosystems! Many of these pools support bacteria, insects, crustaceans, tadpoles, frogs and even birds!

Growing in the Air

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The rainforest is also home to epiphytes. Epiphytes don"t grow in the soil. They grow on a host plant, usualy a tree, and get their nutrients from the moisture and dust in the air. Ferns, lichens, mosses, orchids, and bromeliads are all epiphytes. The tropical rainforest is also home to nepenthes or pitcher plants. These are plants that grow in the soil.

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They have leaves that form a cup where moisture gathers. Pitcher plants capture insects in these cups!