We are all very familiar with the beautiful, dense jungles known as rainforests. Characterized by their tropical species and tall, green trees, they can be found on every continent except Antarctica. However, did you know that there are two different types of rainforests? The two different types, temperate and tropical, differ from each other based on location and climate. Temperate rainforests are located in both northern and southern hemisphere between the polar and tropics regions and remain cool in the winter and warm in the summer. The largest temperate rainforest stretches from Northern California to Canada. Tropical rainforests, on the other hand, are located in the tropics region and remain hot and humid all year round.
Why are They Called Rainforests?
How rainforests got their name is self-explanatory: there’s a lot of rain in these regions. The weather in these regions is always humid and hot, so the trees never stop growing and animals and insects thrive. However, did you know that the rainforest itself is responsible for the rain and humidity? The many plants found in rainforests release water into the atmosphere. This process is called transpiration. On average, a canopy tree can release 200 gallons of water each year! All the water released into the atmosphere accumulates to create thick clouds over rainforests that preserve the humidity and can create rainstorms.
An ecosystem is a special environment where every living thing is interdependent, and the most complex and intriguing ecosystems on can be found in the rainforests. Though they only cover 6% of the Earth, rainforest house more than half of the plant and animal species. In four-square miles, you can find approximately 1,500 plant species, 750 tree species, 400 bird species, and 150 butterfly species. Additionally, the tropical climate allows for plants to thrive. Rainforests are home to an estimated 2/3 of the known plant species on Earth. Therefore, rainforests are the biggest oxygen producing areas in the world. What’s interesting is that all of these plants and animals rely on each other to survive.
Humans and Rainforests
Due to the diverse array of plants and animals that inhabit it, rainforests are the main providers of many products such as coffee, cocoa, and timber. Additionally, the plants in the rainforest grow so close together that they have a higher risk of contracting diseases and parasites. Thus, these plants have adapted to survive these adverse conditions by producing chemicals that humans have since harvested for food, cosmetics, and medicine. Scientists have found approximately 2,000 plants that produce chemicals that serve as anti-cancer agents. As a population, we have grown so reliant on these medicinal resources that, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the rainforests provides 70% of the plants identified as anti-cancer agents.
However, humans are threatening the livelihood of rainforests by overusing them for agriculture, deforestation, and mining purposes. Where there once were a total of 6 million square miles of tropical rainforests, humans have depleted it to the point that only 2.4 million square miles remain. As the rainforests deplete, many animal, plant, and insect species
will go endangered and eventually extinct.
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Resources: https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/land-conservation/forests/rainforests/rainforests-facts.xml?gclid=CjwKCAjwqarbBRBtEiwArlfEIHn19UD8ahGL2ZgcfbJE3-VyDavIrvvtHdp2hYMIeph5fBNcD6ApEhoCe1gQAvD_BwE, http://www.srl.caltech.edu/personnel/krubal/rainforest/Edit560s6/www/what.html, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/rain-forests/