Biodiversity in the Amazon Rainforest: From Exotic Trees to Amazing Ants

Considered literally one of the most beautiful places on Earth, the Amazon Rain Forest in Latin America is filled with some of the world’s most beautiful species. From beautiful exotic plants to the most unique species of animals the rainforest is bursting with so much amazing biodiversity that it is hard to number them all. The rainforest gets is name from the fact that it receives 160 to 400 inches of rain per year. The Amazon is very close to the equator so the temperatures stay near 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. The rainforest consists of four different layers: the emergent trees, canopy, the understory, and the forest floor.

The giant tropical trees definitely make up a large portion of the rainforest. However, these trees are not like other trees on the planet, these trees are unique. If a person is in the rainforest and then were to look up the trees would look like beautiful green umbrellas. This is the layer of the rainforest called the emergent. This is where the tops of the tallest trees exist. The canopy layer is also included in this part of the rainforest. The canopy layer makes up the highest layer of the rainforest. This is where animals such as howler monkeys, red-eyed tree frogs, sloths, and parrots live. Trees in the rainforest can take up to 60 years to grow big enough to use for timber.

This is one of the many reasons that deforestization has become such a huge environmental problem. The Pterocorpus is one of the many strange and unique trees located in the rainforest. This tree’s roots grow above the ground. The reason that the roots grow on top of the ground instead of under like the plants in North America is because of the constant rainfall and the limited amount of nutrients in the soil.

Not only do the rainforest have amazing trees but it also is a home to many of the most exotic plants and flowers on Earth. The understory layer holds many of these exotic plants and flowers. An Araceae or a Peace Lily, grow in the swamps of the rainforest. This beautiful flower is called an inflorescence because it has many small flowers growing inside of it. Another exotic flower in the rainforest is the Costus. This orange flower produces nectar that insects, such as ants, enjoy sucking the juices out of. The rainforest has over 3000 different types of fruits that grow in it. Including: avocadoes, lemons, oranges, bananas, figs and grapefruits. Vegetables also grow in the rainforest including: rice, potatoes, corn, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, coffee and many others.

Strange and exotic birds fly swiftly through the rainforest. One of these birds would be the Toucan. The rainforest is filled with the delightful sounds of nature, especially the sounds of the different kinds of birds. Parrots are also a common bird found in the rainforest. This birds bright and beautiful colors definitely stand out amidst the luscious green forest.

Insects also take up space in the rainforests. These insects usually grow to enormous sizes and can be harmful if bitten or stung by one of them. For example, the trap-jaw ant is the fiercest ants in the rainforest. This ant is three quarter of an inch long and their sting can be very painful. These ants live off of the juices of the Costus flower and they sting only when their food supply is threatened by enemies. The Peanut-head bug or Fulgura laternaia is definitely a strange insect found in the rainforest. This bugs head looks like an unshelled peanut. The Owl butterfly is a unique species also. This butterfly’s wings take on the face of an owl when opened. This scares away the small birds that consider them as food.

Many animals also live in the rainforest besides birds and bugs. The fruit bat, pigmy marmoset (one of the world’s tiniest primates), gorillas, tigers, South American tapirs, and crocodiles have all made the rainforest their natural home. Humans also live in the rainforest along side many of natures little friends.

The biodiversity of the rainforest is enormous. Biodiversity is the many different variations of species that is existent in a ecosystem. For instance the fact that the rainforest has species of plants, animals, insects, seeds, birds and many other different creatures living there considers it to be a biodiversity. Biodiversity is so important in the rainforest because many of the different species depend on one another. For example the trap-jaw ant depends on the Costos for food and the Costos depends on the ants for protection against predators. Some insects can only live off of one type of tree or plant while some birds can only live off of that type of insect. If the plant or tree is destroyed then the insects will die and then the birds will die because there isn’t any insects left and the cycle of life will eventually be broken. Biodiversity is also very important to humans because one fourth of the medicines that we use come from plants in the rainforest. If these plants are not protected by us and are destroyed than we will not have cures to some of the world’s most fatal diseases.

Rainforest destruction is a huge problem. Once the rainforest is destroyed then it is destroyed forever. The rainforest is not renewable and will not grow back if it is cut off. The reason is because it is interdependent meaning that everything that is in the natural environment is connected to one another and cannot survive without the help of other species. If this interdependent web is broken than the rainforest will not have a way of rebuilding itself. Rainforests have been evolving for 70-100 million years. Plants and animals that live here cannot survive any other place on earth. So if the rainforest is destroyed than so are the plants and animals that have resided there for millions of years.

Rainforests are being destroyed because of the lands value of timber, by the governments, national logging companies, and land owners. Giant companies are also helping to destroy the rainforest such as Mitsubishi, Georgia Pacific, Texaco and Unocal. Five centuries ago 10 million Indigenous people populated the rainforest and now there are only 200,000 people. Indigenous tribes have been destroyed since the 1900’s because of deforestization.

The Amazon Rainforest has been described as the “Lungs of our planet” because it provides the essential environmental world service of continually recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen. More than 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon Rainforest and one fifth of the world’s fresh water comes from the Amazon Basin.

When people promote the use of sustaining and renewing the resources of the rainforest than this can help to stop the destruction of it. If people start to value the many plants and medicines that come from the rainforest and can sustain an efficient income than they will see that the rainforest is better left the way that it is than cut down. Organizations and charities have been formed in order to help save the rainforest.

I feel that these methods could be helpful in preserving the rainforest. However, if we as a whole do not work quickly enough in order to do so than there may not be a rainforest left for us to protect. I feel that the government is not doing a very good job of trying to save the rainforest and I feel that that they could if they put more effort into saving the natural environment than into wars and weapons. I feel that nationally and international efforts to help solve the rainforest’s issues are being covered up right now. Many people are concerned with the war in Iraq that little time and effort is being preserved to help save the Amazon. We as American’s forget how important natural life is because of the many worldly distractions that exist in our culture today. America won’t truly understand until the natural environment is destroyed and fresh air becomes a very serious issue.

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