The Rain Forest - Example of a Flourishing Ecosystem


Simply stated the word "ecology" means the relationship of living
things to their surrounding and to each other. The rainforest is on of the
biggest and best examples of a flourishing ecosystem. With the almost
unlimited amount of species found within the rainforest something new is
bound to be found every time one is looked at. In this essay I hope to
outline and explain the various species of plants, animals, people and
others that make up the structure of a rainforest. Obviously with species
in these numbers it is literally impossible to explain every detail there
is to know about a rainforest, but hopefully I will have given you a better
understanding in the end.

A rainforest is a complicated structure which is put together from an
unlimited amount elements that all work together. A hole anywhere in this
system can cause a breakdown that effects the entire structure.

The bottom of the rainforest is the soil upon which everything must
grow. Wherever rainforests are found, sandy red coloured soil can be found
as well. This soil contains few nutrients, which is why attempting to grow
any sort of crops would be futile. On top of this soil is a thin layer of
humus, which simply said is the compost made from the millions of dead
animals and plants of the forest. When things such as leaves and animals
die their remains are quickly broken down by a limitless amount of tiny
organisms. Some insects that do just this sort of thing include: beetles,
ants, termites and a host of others. With all of this death happening so
quickly you would expect a sort of rotten smell to be in the air. This,
however, is not the case. This is simply because everything that is dead in
the forest is broken down so fast. One example of how true this is would be
to kick a fallen tree. Chances are it would crumble to pieces because
termites had chewed, and knawed there way through it in a matter of hours.

All living things requires three things in order to survive. They are
food, moisture, and warmth. These things are provided in abundance in the
rainforest. This explains why anything that has been dead for more than an
hour is well on it's way to being broken down. The result of this is a
brown, pleasant smelling compost containing seeds and other remains which
makes up the thin layer of topsoil from which all plants in the forest
grow. This layer is only a few inches deep and as soon as it rains, which
happens often, this thin topsoil is washed away into the nearest river.
This results in a loss of many seeds which have been released from larger
plants. Those not lost in the rain can be eaten by such species as agoutis,
weevils and other animals. All of these things paint a picture of how hard
it is for a seed to germinate and grow into a mature plant.

The plants of a rainforest take up such an incredible amount of space,
that trying to identify them all would be like to trying to name every
person in Toronto. It just can't be done. Of the approximate THIRTY MILLION
plants, and animals in the world about TWO THIRDS are only able to survive
in the rainforests. When you think of a rainforest, the first thing that
most likely comes to your mind is a green steamy hell that is miles away
from anything that you are used to. However we tend to forget how much of
our daily lives involve the rainforests. Such common items as Mahogany,
coffee, and peanuts all originally made their homes in the jungle. Another
obvious example of this comes in the form of fruits. Tropical fruits are
everywhere. Bananas, Mango's and Avacado's just to name a few, line the
shelves our stores and supermarkets. The jungle does not just provide a
source of food though, it also contributes to something of much greater
importance. The field of medicine owes a lot to the enormous "gene bank"
that the rainforest supplies. Treatments for such things as Leukaemia
(Madagascar Periwinkle), AIDS (Catanospermine) gives new hope to these
terminal diseases.

Perhaps the most noticeable life form within the forest are the trees
themselves. Most trees in the rainforest are evergreens however some, such
as the wild Kapok are deciduous and will shed their leaves. Many of the
trees and plants found within the forest have adapted to the