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Costa Rica Tropical RainforestThe world's highest biodiversity per area unit
The tropical rainforest
biome is the terrestrial environment with the most plenty of animal and plant (quantity and diversity) on earth (1);
and any rainforest animal, plant or tree live in mutual interdependency
as part of a food web, which is in turn part of a well-established ecological relationship network among them. Costa Rica rainforest (ranking first in the world in biodiversity per area unit) is a very astounding
magical nature sanctuary with abundance of shapes, colors, sounds, and aromas; inhabited by a sort of animals
like exotic birds, colorful butterflies, tree frogs, poison dart frogs, monkeys and even stealthy and elusive felines; living among each plant, tree,
vine, liana, fern and flower.
Costa Rica Tropical Rainforest Facts
Tropical Rainforest of Costa Rica: Main Features
Rainforest biomes are very important at a world level (basically a biome is a set of similar ecosystems) because is home of two thirds of all species of animals and plants on Earth. Even the tropical rainforest is home to more species than all other biomes of our planet combined! Even more, hundreds of millions of new species of plants, insects, and microorganisms are waiting to be cataloged. Its location near the equator optimize the conditions for the plants photosynthesis, causing this way that tropical rainforests fixate a great amount of carbon dioxide, taking it from the atmosphere into the vegetal tissues, and liberate another great amount of oxygen back to the atmosphere, so they are worthy of being considered as the lungs of Earth. Costa Rica rainforest features plenty of rivers and springs with pristine water distributed along the region, which form waterfalls where the terrain is uneven (a great part of the country), and flow superficially as the manifestation of considerable underground aquifers to which help in supplying.
Tropical Rainforest Animals
Among the most representative examples of rainforest fauna that can be seen are the Green Basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons), the Green Iguana (Iguana iguana), the Two-toed (Choloepus hoffmanni) & Three-toed (Bradypus variegatus) Sloth, the Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides), the Poison Dart Frog (Oophaga pumilio), the Red Eye Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas), the Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata) and the White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica).
Picturesque, elusive for sighting, but betrayed by their footprints; felines are the agile predators of the forests: the Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi), the Puma (Puma concolor), the Margay (Leopardus wiedii), the Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and the Jaguar (Panthera onca). This last is the greater of America and is endowed with the most powerful mandible among felines of the world.
Rain forest provides bird watching delights: exotic birds like the colorful Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus), the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii), and many others like parrots, humming birds, tanagers, honeycreepers, robins, trogons, etc; and you can see some of them at their habitat, with the canopy tour or while in the Costa Rica tour operator activities, specially the bird watching tour trails. Besides in these nature expeditions it is possible to see exotic and colorful rainforest frogs as well as massive, powerful and ferocious reptiles as the American Crocodile (Crocodilus acutus), or the Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus) which is less sized as well as unharmful to people; and into the Costa Rican rainforest butterflies diversity, is included the very special Blue Morpho Butterfly, the Owl Butterfly (Caligo eurilochus sulanus) and all the range of Heliconius butterflies, among others.
Tropical Rainforest Plants
The Tropical Rain Forest can be divided in five different layers which are the ground, the shrub, the understorey (medium height trees), the canopy (the cover of predominant population) and the emergent layer (isolated trees that grow over canopy layer). Although normally the ground levels are the only which are accessed by humans without problems, by means of specialized technology is possible to reach the high environment of the forests in a viable way. Such is the case of "Canopy Tours", as their name implies are precisely tours throughout the canopy and understorey forest layers, and allows people to experience and feel by moments, as being part of the forest itself, thanks to making more accessible its highest layers.
The dominant rainforest tree is tall, evergreen with leafy canopy whose upper ceiling shelter a great variety of epiphytes: orchids, bromeliads, mosses, and lichens. The set of canopies restricts the sunlight at the ground level, so the plants cannot grow with a distribution of total density, and there is space which is used by animals (and people requiring that) to walk through.
Bromeliads play the fundamental role as elevated water containers at the canopy and overground rainforest ecosystem layers, because of their rigid leaves concentrically arranged at their convergent wide bases, serving as natural water dispensers for each thirsty rainforest animal inhabiting there (any bird, monkey or sloth looking for water), avoiding in this way the exposure to ground predators.
Evolutive Adaptations and Interdependencies
One of the most important adaptation that has been establish in the plants of the rainforest is the drainage capability of the leaves, to get free as soon as possible of the cover of moisture excess, which can interrupt the normal activity of the photosynthesis. This is achieved by means of a specialized structural shape: the "drip tip", which is a sharp and often a long point at the end of leaves: water runs by gravity along the leaf, converges and collects at the tip, and finally drips from there. This way, drip tips help the leaves to ensure to dry much faster than they would if they had rounded shapes, working as drainage triggerers each time water accumulates.(4) Besides of this adaptation, there is another way to avoid the moisture cover by means of a wax-like water repelling surface in the leaf, which causes any water drop to slide down leaving it absolutely dry (in an analogous way as the normal behaviour of mercury drops). The two drainage systems are present independently, or in some cases, both are present in the same leaf.
At each of the five different layers of the tropical rain forest there has been established different populations of plants and animals, adapted for live in their particular and proper area according to the resources and conditions presented. As example the bromeliads (thanks to its water container) are useful as the home for insects and frogs while in their metamorphosis aquatic phase. This fact has caused that frogs emerging from tadpoles living in the water stored have evolved specialized body shapes to fit into the narrow spaces among the bromeliad leaves.
Rainforest animal seeds dispersion effect is another great link that engages most of the ecosystem members, this way the seeds of each fruit eat and carried by some monkeys or birds have the possibility of being left far from its producer plant, by dropping or carrying them, increasing that plant survival and spreading potential. About this, there is the interesting fact that the dropped seeds trace left by rainforest monkeys to their step through the forest are clues that allows us to follow them and be able to see them; this is of great help in the case of the Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata), because despite its name and loud call, at most time is a very silent rainforest animal.
A very conspicuous phenomenon happening in some rain forest animal cases: evolution has created colorful patterns that play the function of being a very gorgeous warning signal of bad taste or being a dangerous (even deadly) snack, in order to avoid this way to be devoured by the great number of potential predators. That is called aposematic coloration and is present in the poison dart frog and some butterfly groups (as you can witness with the pictures). Even more, due to evolutive adaptations the butterfly coloration has produced that some inoffensive butterfly species mimics the color patterns the dangerous ones so accurately that are considered by predators into the avoiding group (Müllerian mimicry). The best available example of this can be seen in the Heliconius butterfly, and you can admire it at any butterfly garden.
A Natural Treasure to Value and Care for
We must save the tropical rainforest because it is a key part in maintaining the nature equilibrium at planet level, which is in danger because of the intervention of increasing human's wastes & consumption. These forests play an important role in the water cycle because them give great help with the natural maintenance and the water feed of the aquifers, which supply the growing needs of the society; without them the rainfall water is not well filtered into the ground and flows on the surface causing floods. Besides, it was the kind of forest that originally covered the most of the Costa Rican ground, and it would be doing so if humans hadn't established their settlements. Indeed we must strive for any forest conservation and protection right now that finally the real trouble of global warming with all its catastrophic consequences for all if is not stopped and controlled. Furthermore, besides its contribution with Earth's illnesses cure, tropical rainforest provide us scientific knowledge, spiritual and physical health, and indispensable pristine air and water as well. This is the reason for the local protected areas, as many experts mention, "Costa Ricans are very proud of their national park system, and this pride can only be strengthened as more and more people visit the parks. The long-term effects of these feelings are likely to be critical to the success of protecting tropical rain forests".(5)
Tropical Rainforest Books
This is a selection of recommended and suggested books for further reading and learning about Costa Rica Tropical Rainforest, flora and fauna; which are available for look at their reader reviews and buying online if needed (* As a form to support this website, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites).
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