Rainforest Layers
by Sarah and Devin.

The Emergent Layer is the layer above the Canopy. Birds and monkeys live in the Emergent Layer which gets the most sunlight. In a Rainforest, trees, shrubs and plants of every kind struggle to reach the light. Emergent trees are very top heavy and have almost no side branches below the canopy.

The Canopy is the top most layer and acts as a kind of umbrella. Not all trees live in the Canopy. Some trees such as the Brush Box exist in the Canopy and act as a home for birds, possums and plants. The trees in the Canopy join together to make a very thick cover and this is generally 60-100 feet above the ground. At the top, rainfall is heavy and the effects of the winds are strongest and humidity is fairly high. Many of the trees have their branches intertwined and they are also tied together by many kinds of creepers. Lianes are climby woody plants that are rooted in the ground and use other plants as support so that they can reach the light.

The Understory Layer occurs at around 25 metres and is home to thousands of plants, insects and birds. If a tall tree falls down, small ferns and trees will grow out of it. The Understory is a relatively small place and is very dark and wet, so the trees there don't grow very tall. Epiphytes are plants which perch on or adhere to other plants. They collect water in a variety of ways from rain and get nutrients from organic matter. Mosses, lichens, orchids, ferns, elkhorns, staghorns, and bird nest ferns are Epiphytes that grow in the Understory.

Below the Understory is the Forest Floor. It is dark here because all the other layers have blocked out the sunlight. It is also the most humid part of the Rainforest. There is no grass here. The underlying soil is hidden by a thin layer of rapidly rotting leaves, twigs and dead flowers. The work of decomposing this litter layer is carried out by plants like fungi and animals and insects like ants and termites as well as worms.

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