Tropical Rainforest key terms

Term Definition
Transpiration plants release water vapour from small pores on the underside of their leaves
Abiotic relating to non-living things
Biotic relating to living things
Interdependence all species are to some extent dependent on one another
Precipitation Rainfall – average of 50 to 260 inches (125 to 660 cm.) of rain falls yearly
Evaporation liquid (water) turning to vapour
Infiltration water entering the soil, for example
Condensation the conversion of a vapour or gas to a liquid."the cloud is caused by condensation in the air"
Percolation the slow movement of water through the pores in soil or permeable rock
Surface run-off Without trees, water will run freely overland and into rivers
Biomass the living biological organisms that exist in an ecosystem
Litter dead plant material, such as leaves, bark, needles, twigs that have fallen to the ground – dead organic material and its constituent nutrients
Nutrient cycle A set of processes whereby organisms extract minerals necessary for growth from soil or water, before passing them on through the food chain – and ultimately back to the soil and water.
emergent layer where a few large trees such as mahogany, grow above the rest of the canopy. Birds and insects can exist here
canopy where most of the tops of the trees grow, blocking out all light. Monkeys and birds live here
under canopy few trees, mainly vines
shrub layer small plants and trees, waiting for a tree to fall and create a gap in which they can grow
evapotranspiration water lost through the pores in leaves and evaporated by heat
convection rainfall Occurs in warm or tropical climates when heated air rises and cools
water cycle Roots of plants take up water from the ground and the rain is intercepted as it falls – much of it at the canopy level. As the rainforest heats up, the water evaporates into the atmosphere and forms clouds to make the next day's rain.
carbon cycle Plants and animals contain a great deal of carbon – and carbon dioxide is consumed during growth and photosynthesis by the shrubs and trees within the layers, but released into the atmosphere through respiration and decomposition.
forest floor ferns and tree roots, fungi can exist here. Animals such as tapirs, frogs and alligators can exist here

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