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Teaching Tropical Rainforest Biology

A Sample Tropical Rainforest Teaching Unit Outline


  1. Physical Characteristics of the Tropical Rainforest

    1. high rainfall
    2. high amounts of solar radiation
    3. high average temperature
    4. high humidity
    5. little monthly variation in temperature and photoperiod
    6. comparative climatograms using Works Spreadsheet

  2. Biological Characteristics of the Tropical Rainforest

    1. Complex vertical layering of vegetation (leaf size, crown shape, and tree height)

      1. emergent layer
      2. the canopy layer

        1. canopy research techniques: ascenders,
          platforms, cranes, balloons, walkways
        2. epiphytic plants (bromeliads)
        3. adaptations of canopy animals

      3. the understory layer: useful plants of the understory: palms and bamboos
      4. the herbaceous layer: house plants from the rainforest
      5. the forest floor : soil nutrients, leaching and recycling

    2. Extremely high species diversity.

      1. Tropical rainforest and mid-latitude deciduous forest comparisons: plants, herbs, birds and mammals
      2. Why do tropical rainforests have such great biodiversity?

        1. the available time hypothesis
        2. the refugia hypothesis
        3. the geographic isolating mechanism hypothesis

      3. Niche specialization

        1. What is an ecological niche?
        2. Habitat specialization.
        3. Feeding specialization.
        4. Camouflage, protective resemblance, and mimicry



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