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The Forest Floor
Almost no plants grow in this region of 0-2% light and 100% humidity. The few flowering plants that live here tolerate deep shade. The floor itself is covered with a litter of rapidly decomposing vegetation and organisms that break down into usable nutrients. A leaf that might take one year to decompose in a temperate climate, will disappear in just six weeks on the rainforest floor. A high proportion of the nutrients in the system are locked in the large biomass (trees and other plant storage systems). There is heavy competition for these nutrients. This is why many trees are so shallow-rooted. Large mammals, such as tapirs, forage for roots and tubers. Insects, including termites, cockroaches, beetles, centipedes, millipedes, scorpions and earthworms, along with the fungi, use the organic litter as a source of food

The Understory
This area gets only 2-5% of the sunlight available to the canopy. This limited light encourages the plant residents to devise unique ways to survive, such as the solar-collecting dark green leaves. Plants that survive in the understory include dwarf palms and soft-stalked species of families, such as the ginger family, acanthus and prayer plant or Maranta. These plants seldom grow to more than 12 feet (3.5 m) in height. Understory plants have a more difficult time with pollination because of the lack of air movement. Most rely on insects. Some produce strong smelling flowers, others produce flowers and fruit on their trunks. This phenomenon, known as cauliflory, makes them more conspicuous to aid the process of pollination and seed dispersal. Many animals live here, including snakes, frogs, parakeets, leopards or jaguars and the largest concentration of insects.

The Canopy
The primary layer of the rainforest, the canopy, extends beneath the emergents, rising to 150 feet (45m). Most canopy trees have smooth, oval leaves that come to a point. A possible explanation for this adaptati...

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