Layers of the Amazon
The Amazon rainforest is comprised of layers. Each layer receives a different amount of sunlight and rainfall and accommodates different animals and plants (some of which move between layers).
THE EMERGENT LAYER – In this top layer, the treetops of the tallest and oldest trees, such as the brazil nut, ironwood and kapok, stand guard over the rest of the forest. This layer gets the most wind, sun and rain. Animals that live here are either good climbers or can fly, such as harpy eagles, macaws, howler monkeys and butterflies.
THE CANOPY LAYER – This next layer is very dense. The crowded branches and leaves of many trees provide shade for the lower layers. The animals who live here, such as sloths, toucans and tamarin monkeys, spend their time eating the fruits, nuts and leaves of these trees.
THE UNDERSTORY – This layer is where tree trunks, bushes and vines grow. It is sheltered from high temperatures, heavy rains and strong winds, which is why many animals live here, including snakes, jaguars, tree frogs, and spiders.
THE FOREST FLOOR – This ground layer is covered with leaf litter. The animals that live here are usually diggers and do not climb very well; they include anteaters, earthworms, beetles and ants. Ferns, fungi and moss also make their home here.
Activity 1 - Who Lives Where and How Have They Adapted?
Draw the layers of the rainforest and fill in each layer with the types of species that live there. Give some examples of how plants or animals have adapted to living in their surroundings. For instance, the toucan has a long, large bill that allows it to reach and eat fruit from branches that are too weak to support the bird’s weight.
Activity 2 - Working Together
Although each layer of the rainforest is distinct, they are also interconnected and help to support one another. For instance, the animals in the canopy layer disperse seeds to the forest floor, allowing the plant to reproduce. The understory is the perfect nursery for small seedlings. Can you think of other examples demonstrating the interconnectedness of the layers?
Activity 3 - Math in Nature
The Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers, starting from zero, where every number is the sum of the two numbers preceding it. It’s named after the Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci who explained this sequence in his 1202 book. The sequence looks like this:
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21……and so on.
(0+1=1), (1+1 =2), (1 +2=3), (2+3=5), (3+5=8), (5+8=13), (8 +13 = 21)…
Can you figure out what the next three numbers in the sequence will be? (Answer in activity 4)
Activity 4 - Flower Petals and The Fibonacci Sequence
(If you guessed 34, 55 and 89 as the next three numbers in the sequence in activity 3 then you are correct!)
What’s fascinating about the Fibonacci sequence is that these numbers appear all around us in nature! For instance, most flowers (with the exception of some species like lilies) will have a Fibonacci number of petals. The numbers in this sequence are also found in the seeds of fruits, the rows of seeds on a sunflower, the number of spirals on pinecones, and many other places.
Go on a nature walk and find different types of flowers. For each type of flower, count the number of petals and make a chart. When you return home compare your numbers to the numbers in the Fibonacci sequence.
What did you discover?
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO BECOME AN EARTH PROTECTOR!
Start an EARTH club at your school! You will need to find at least six other students interested in forming the club as well as a teacher, parent or community leader who is willing to be your adult sponsor. You can learn about the EARTH topics and do the EARTH activities together. Maybe your club would even be interested in sharing your knowledge about the Amazon rainforest with other classes by giving a presentation!