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How Dense Are the Trees in the Rainforest?

Tropical rainforests have four layers, each of which has a different density. The forest floor is the lowest layer, and is usually relatively sparse due to the lack of sunlight. Above this is the understory layer, which might be quite dense with large leaves, as shrubs and young trees compete here for light.

The canopy layer is usually around 10 meters (33 feet) thick and consists of the leafy crowns of most of the rainforest trees, as well as numerous vines and epiphytes. This layer is dense enough to intercept up to 95% of sunlight. It is estimated that rain falling through this layer can take up to 10 minutes to reach the ground.

The emergent layer consists of only the tops of the very tallest trees, some of which can grow to around 80 meters (around 260 feet) high.

More about the rainforest:

  • The canopy of a tropical rainforest is considered to have the richest biodiversity of any terrestrial habitat.

  • Scientists are developing methods of studying the flora and fauna in rainforest canopy, including by crane and by balloon.

  • By some estimates, an area of rainforest almost as large as the state of Washington is destroyed by people each year.

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