rainforest coloring printouts
helping children learn about the rainforest
- What are rainforests?
- Where are rainforests found?
- What makes a rainforest?
- What is the canopy?
tropical rainforests are forests with tall trees, warm climate, and lots of rain. In some rainforests it rains more than one inch every day!
Rainforests are found in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Central and South America. The largest rainforest in the world is the Amazon rainforest.
WHERE ARE RAINFORESTS LOCATED?
Rainforests are found in the tropics, the region between the Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer. In this region the sun is very strong and shines about the same amount of time every day all year long making the climate warm and stable.
Many countries have rainforest. The countries with the largest amount of rainforest are:
2. Congo (Democratic Republic)
8. Papua New Guinea
Each rainforest is unique but there are certain features common to all tropical rainforests.
1. Location: rainforests lie in the “tropics”
2. Rainfall: rainforests receive at least 80 inches of rain per year
3. Canopy: rainforests have a canopy which is the layer of branches and leaves formed by closely spaced rainforest trees. Most of the plants and animals in the rainforest live in the canopy. The canopy may be 100 feet above the ground.
4. Biodiversity: rainforests have a high level of biological diversity or biodiversity. Biodiversity is the name for all living things — like plants, animals, and fungi — found in an ecosystem. Scientists believe that about half of the plants and animals found on earth’s land surface live in rainforests.
5. Symbiotic relationships between species: species in the rainforest often work together. A symbiotic relationship is a relationship where two different species benefit by helping each other. For example some plants produce small housing structures and sugar for ants. In return the ants protect the plants from other insects that may want to feed on the plant’s leaves.
In the rainforest most plant and animal life is not found on the forest floor but in the leafy world known as the canopy. The canopy, which may be over 100 feet above the ground, is made up of the overlapping branches and leaves of rainforest trees. Scientists estimate that 70-90% of life in the rainforest is found in the trees making this the richest habitat for plant and animal life. Many well-known animals including monkeys, frogs, lizards, birds, snakes, sloths, and small cats are found in the canopy.
The environment of the canopy is very different from the environment of the forest floor. During the day, the canopy is drier and hotter than other parts of the forest and the plants and animals that live there are specially adapted for life in the trees. For example, because the amount of leaves in the canopy can make it difficult to see more than a few feet, many canopy animals rely on loud calls or lyrical songs for communication. Gaps between trees mean that some canopy animals fly, glide, or jump to move about in the treetops.
Scientists have long been interested in studying the canopy but because of the height of rainforest trees research has been difficult until recently. Today there are special facilities with rope bridges, ladders, and towers to help scientists discover the secrets of the canopy.
The canopy is just one of several vertical layers in the rainforest. Take a look at the diagram on the left to see the other layers (the overstory, understory, shrub layer, and forest floor).
The leaves of the canopy makes the ground layer of the rainforest is often a dark and humid place. However, despite its constant shade, the rainforest floor is an important part of the forest ecosystem.
The forest floor is where decomposition takes place. Decomposition is the process by which decomposers like fungi and microorganisms break down dead plants and animals and recycle essential materials and nutrients.
Many of the largest rainforest animals are found on the forest floor. Some of these include elephants, the tapir, and the jaguar.