You are on page 1of 52

Tropical rainforests and man’s

impact on this biome
What is biome?
• A biome is a large geographical area of
distinctive plant and animal groups, which are
adapted to that particular environment. The
climate and geography of a region determines
what type of biome can exist in that region.
Major biomes include deserts, forests,
grasslands and tundra. Each biome consists of
many ecosystems whose communities have
adapted to the small differences in climate and
the environment inside the biome.
World distribution of TRF
• Tropical rainforest are found between 10 ° N and 10 ° S
latitude. They can be found in three major geographical
areas around the world:
• Central America in the Amazon river basin.
• Africa - Zaire basin, with a small area in West
• Indo-Malaysia - west coast of India, Assam,
Southeast Asia, New Guinea and Queensland,
Climate in TRF
• Temperature
• High and constant throughout the year
• (because the rainforests are located near the tropics
where the angle of the sun is always high)
• Mean annual temperature is high, around 27℃
• Annual temperature range is under 3℃ --no seasonality
• Daily range of temperature is also small—about 7℃
(because of dense cloud cover)
• high humidity
• At daytime the humidity measures about 80%. At night
the humidity is even higher at 95%.
• Precipitation
• Heavy rainfall
• Annual rainfall > 2000mm (convergence of trade winds
at the ITCZ, unstable air)
• Evenly distributed throughout the year
• Max rainfall: In April and October ( Spring +Autumn
• Least rainfall: in June and December ( summer+ winter
• Mainly convectional rain
• Thunderstorms are common.

Iquitos, Peru's
climograph displays
the distinguishing
characteristics of the
rain forest climate:
high annual
temperatures and
ample rainfall. 
Figure CS.4 Convective thunderstorms over Brazil (July 2002)
(Source: Copyright 2002 EUMETSAT)

• Humidity in the rain forest can
be oppressive with dew point
temperatures ranging from
15oC - 20oC (59oF- 68oF).
• early morning radiation fogs
form heavy dew drips from the
rain forest vegetation. These
condensation products
evaporate into the air as the
Sun rises, thus increasing the
air's humidity.
• Winds
• the winds are light, allowing land and see breezes to
develop in coastal areas

• The combination of constant warmth and abundant
moisture makes the tropical rainforest a suitable
environment for many plants and animals. Tropical
rainforests contain the greatest biodiversity in the
world. Over 15 million species of plants and animals
live within this biome
• Mainly oxisols
• Poor, acidic and infertile.
• Highly weathered,often down to 10 meters or more
• contains less organic matter because the warm humid
conditions encourage faster decay and recycling of
nutrients back into living forest
• high rainfall tends to leach out soluble nutrients
• The high concentration of iron and aluminium oxides by
the laterization process gives the oxisols a reddish brown
color and sometimes produces minable deposits e.g.
• Hard pan may exist
• Only about 20% of the humid tropics has soils that can
support agriculture
Vegetation (Flora)
 Dense, luxuriant
-hot and wet all year
-long growing season
-enough moisture and sunlight
 Great species diversity (up to 100,000)
-favourable growing conditions
e.g.: In Amazon, >300 species in 1km²
palm, rubber, ebony( 烏木 )
 Complex structure
- great number of different species
 Dominant community is trees
-Mainly hardwood
-slow growing
-live to great age
e.g.: greenheart( 綠心硬木樹 )
Vegetation (Flora)
 Evergreen
- no seasonal variation
-no seasonal pattern in flowering,
fruiting and leaf fall
• Extensive shallow roots
-mean of support
-absorb nutrient on the surface of the soil
-absorb water and oxygen
e.g.: Buttress roots (3.9m), aerial root Buttress roots
( 氣根 ), stilt roots
 Large, green leaves with smooth
surface, drip tips
-to absorb sunlight
-to drain excess water off the leaf
• Continuous cover by canopy
-absorb >70% of light
-intercept >80% of rainfall
-provide habitat for animals, insects,
birds stilt roots
Vegetation (Flora)
Forest Structure
b. Synusia
- a group of plants of similar life
form and play a similar role in the
 Autotrophic Plants (with
- Mechanically independent plants
e.g.: trees, shrubs, herbs Epiphytes
- Mechanically dependent plants
e.g.: climbers (e.g.: lianas),
stranglers and epiphytes (mosses,
liverworts 葉苔 , lichens)
 Heterotrophic plants (without
e.g.: saprophytes (fungi), parasites
(getting food from host, harmful to
the hosts)


Vertical Stratification

There are five storeys:
☻ A-layer (Emergent layer)
- tall emergent (>30m)
- broad crowns
- straight trunks supported by buttress
e.g.: palm species, light-demanding
☻ B-layer (Canopy layer)
- mainly canopy (about 30m)
- forms continuous cover
- high branches
☻ C-layer ( young tree layer)
- about 10-15m
- consist of young trees
- shorter and more slender( 纖細)
- oval- shaped crowns
☻ D-layer (shrub layer)
- about 1-5m
- sparse with many ferns
☻ E-layer (undergrowth/ground layer)
- mainly mosses, lichens and
- the density is depending on the
degree on openness of the forest
Animals (Fauna)
Great variety of animal life
-mammals, birds, insects, micro-organisms
-because of the suitable living environment
> rich section of plant species for food
>constant environment conditions
throughout the year
Different kinds of fauna:
Golden frog
• canopy-dwelling birds
• Mammals (living in trees)
- sloth, monkeys, anteaters
• Ground-living animals
-deer and rodents ( 齧齒目動物 )
-they depend on seed and fruit falling from
canopy layer
• Amphibia ( 兩棲類 )
e.g.: frog
• Reptiles
e.g.: snakes
Squirrel Monkey

Nutrient Cycling in
Tropical Rain Forest

Uptake by

Leaching Weathered
rock Runoff
Why is biomass the largest store of

Densely populated, tall,
evergreen trees

Temperature Precipitation
Storage and Transfer of nutrients within selected biomes

Stored in Stored in Stored Soil to Biomass Litter to
biomass litter in soil biomass to litter soil
Equatorial 11081 178 352 2028 1540 4480
Coniferous 3350 2100 142 178 145 86

Tropical 978 300 502 319 312 266

Temperate 540 370 5000 422 426 290
Why there is so few nutrient in
soil and litter?
• Decaying matter (dead
wood and leaf litter) is
processed so efficiently
because of the abundance
of decomposers including
bacteria, fungi, and
termites. These organisms termite
take up nutrients, which
are released as wastes
when organisms die.
Virtually all organic matter
is rapidly processed, even
fecal matter and
perspiration. fungi
• It is onl y a mat ter of
min utes @ O@!! , in many
rainforests, before dung is
discovered and utilized by Beetle
various insects.
• covered with brightly colored
butterflies, beetles, and flies,
while du ng bee tles
fever is hly r oll por ti ons of
th e wa ste in to b all s f or
use l ater a s l ar va l f ood .
• Insects are not only attracted to
dung for the energy value, but
often for the presence of
nutrients like cal ciu m s alt s
• Uptake of nutrients by plant
roots is facilitated by a unique
relationship between the roots
and a fungi, mycorrhizae( 菌
根 ).
• The mycorrhizae attach to
plant roots and are specialized
to increase the efficiency of
nutrient uptake nutrient from
the soil. In return, plants
provide the fungi with sugars
and shelter among their roots.
• Studies have also shown that
mycorrhizae can help a tree
resist drought and disease.

• The attractiveness of
dung to small rainforest
insects has led to the
development of dung-
mimics both among
predators and prey.
These animals, generally
insects and spiders, sit
motionless for hours at a
time trying to look as
dung-like as possible to
avoid detection.
Energy Flow in Rain forest
• Though there is a large
quantity of vegetation,
• as much of the vegetation is
Pomelo 柚
above the reach of forest
animals, tropical rainforests (Jerunga) fruit
support only a small
biomass of large
Green cacao
• Much of their sustenance pods still on
comes from the the tree. Cacao
consumption of fallen fruits, is cauliflorous,
seeds, and flowers. meaning the
fruit grow
directly out of
the tree trunk
and branches.
• Whole niches have
opened for species
that feed exclusively
on fallen matter.
• This niche is filled in
Asia by the mouse
deer; in Africa by the
duikers; and in South
and Central America
by the agouti.
• However, small mammals are the rule and
larger mammals are far less common than in
temperate forests and the African savannas.
• The scarcity of large mammals is in part due to
the lack of leaves at ground level on which to
• Only a few large mammal species exist in
tropical rainforests: the okapi, the elephant, the
pygmy hippo, the bongo, and the gorilla of
Africa; the tapir, the rhinoceros, the forest deer,
and the elephant of Asia; and the tapir of South
The Okapi is a primitive giraffe, about the size of a
horse, found in a small region of rainforest in the

Tapirs are large mammals found in
the rainforests of Central and South
America and also Malaysia. The
tapir is a bizarre-looking animal with
a body shaped like a pig but short
elephant-like trunk. Tapirs feed on

Due to the scarcity of large
prey, larger predators are
relatively rare in the rainforest.
Many of these carnivores have
adapted to cope with the
shortage of large ground-
dwelling prey by hunting in the
canopy and supplementing
their diet with smaller animals
like fish, rodents, birds, and
reptiles. The largest group of
mammalian predators on the
forest floor are the cats.
Jaguar in
• Besides the great cats, the rainforest also has several
smaller species like the leopard cat (Asia), margay
(New World), and ocelot (New World). These generally
range from the size of a housecat to a dog. Most are
nocturnal and hunt both on the forest floor and in the
• They eat a broad range of animals: frogs, fish,
rodents, turtles, deer, and caiman.
Wild boar
in Malaysia

Coati 浣熊 rock
The Red
River Hog is
found in
forests of
western and
central Africa
south of the
Sahara. The
Red River
Hog is
feeding on
grass, water
plants, roots,
bulbs, fruit,
and carrion
Man’s activities in the TRF
Here, we are going to find out how
man’s activities results changes in the

In short, there are mainly four types of
man’s activities in TRF.
Man’s activities in the TRF
• Logging for timber (deforestation)

• Shifting cultivation

• Mining

• Settlement expanding
Logging for timber
• In TRF, there are large numbers of timber. TRF
is the largest producer of timber in the world.
Large scale of deforestation for timber damage
large area of land.
• Example 1 :280,000m³ of land in TRF are
destroyed for timber in the south-west Australia.
• Example 2 :The annual cut has been increased
to over 1,500,000m³ .
• People having deforestation of timber for
building and woodchips.
Logging for timber
• Effects:
When large numbers of trees are
removed, the soil structure is affected. Soil
easily to be washed away when heavy
rainfall comes ,as there are no plant roots
to hold the soil. Soil erosion occurred.
Logging for timber
Salts accumulate in the laterite soil and
can be moved relatively easily by an
increase in groundwater. Removal of trees
cause the groundwater level to rise and
eventually the saline water enters the
drainage system.
Logging for timber
Certainly, this will cause a loss of native
flora and fauna. The habitat of animals
living in the TRF will also be affected. For
examples, birds such as the whipbird are
disappearing with the destruction of
Shifting cultivation
• In the TRF, there many natives living in.
They burn trees for land to plant crops. In
case, the soil in TRF is not suitable for
crops growing. When they found the soil
is less fertile and cannot grow crops, they
will leave the land and find another site by
burning trees. This method they are using
called shifting cultivation.
Shifting cultivation
• Effects:
• Damaged in soil structure
Unsuitable ways in using the land in TRF
cause damage in soil structure, Land in
TRF is not suitable for farming. Because
there is strong leaching washed the
nutrients and minerals away. It is not
fertile for crops growing.
Shifting cultivation
• Land may loss the productivity.
Over-cultivation may found in TRF, when
the pressure on land is greater than the
carrying capacity, the land may loss the
. It affects the number of flora and fauna ,
26 species of plants and animals in jarrah
forest lost. Their habitat are affected.
• Besides timber, TRF also have another
precious resource---minerals. For
examples, gold and tin. However, mining
in TRF lead to 800ha forest lost each year
in south-western Australia. Little
rehabilitation in TRF results in great
damage to TRF.
Settlement expanding
• The native are continuing to expand their
family. Population is increasing in these
years. Small towns in TRF are expanding.
Infrastructure damages forest. It produces
more pollution in TRF.
The effects of damaging the TRF

• The change of climate
• Cutting down the trees causes less evapotranspiration,
the amount of clouds and rainfall decrease, the climate
becomes dry, thus the micro-climate changes.
• Because of the lack of the vegetation cover, the sunlight
reaches the ground directly, the temperature increases
greatly. At night, the heat on the ground loses rapidly,
the temperature drops rapidly as well, that forms a larger
diurnal range of temperature.
• As there are less vegetation doing photosynthesis, the
oxygen they emit and the carbon dioxide they absorb
decrease. The carbon dioxide in air increases, that
causes greenhouse effects and global warming.
The effects of damaging the TRF
• Destroy the nutrients cycling
• Most of the nutrients of rainforest is stored in the
biomass. The fertility of the soil relies on the
decomposition. After the trees are cut, many nutrients
will run off, and the amount of humus produced by
decomposition will decrease. Lack of humus and the
roots of vegetation, water and nutrients cannot be stored
in the soil.
The effects of damaging the TRF
• Cause soil erosion
• Since the vegetation decreases, the amount of infiltration
decreases and the amount of surface run-off increases.
Also, the lack of vegetation cover, the sunlight may
cause the soil becomes hard and dry.
• Flooding of streams
• As the soil erosion is serious, the surface run-off will
wash the soil to the steams and rivers, forms deposition.
During a rainstorm, most of the rainfall form surface run-
off, flow to the rivers rapidly, cause flooding.
The effects of damaging the TRF
• Destroy the habitat of wild animals
• Local wild animals will die because of the lack of food
and habitat. After cutting trees, the species diversity in
rainforest will drops greatly
• Most of the oxygen which is needed for survival of
• is released by photosynthesis But people cutting down
trees, turn the forest to farm because of the economical
benefits. And the industrialization and the urbanization
harm the tropical rainforest. Lead the rainforest which
has high species diversity, lost its function of breeding
the different species.
The effects of damaging the TRF

• Desertification
If the ground loses its vegetation cover,
soil erosion may be easily occurred. The
lost of forest will lead high temperature.
And the loose soil will become desert at
last. Many places in the world are in the
process of desertification.
Things can do to redeem the harm
to the tropical rainforest
• To foster a rainforest
• Once the rainforest is destroyed, it is hard to
revert it. Besides we need to solve the
increasing population density and the problem of
impoverished, we need to enhance the
management to the rainforest. Let the residents
turn to forestry, and find out the substitutes of
shifting cultivation, that they can use the
resources of the forest efficiently.
Things can do to redeem the harm
to the tropical rainforest
• The international action
• There are many international organizations which
participate in the protection of rainforest, such as the
BBC World Service. Through these organizations,
countries agree to enhance their cooperation, promote
the protection to the forest and to exploit the forest
systematically. In order to keep the species diversity of
the forest, countries will mark out national parks and
nature reserves.