Plant Adaptations: Features for Survival in the Rain Forest
Because of natural selection, individuals that are the best fitted to their environment survive and reproduce offspring. In the tropical rain forest, more plants are produced than can survive. The plants that possess useful characteristics or adaptations are the ones that are successful. For example, the leaves of many plants in the upper levels of the rain forest have specially shaped tips called ''drip tips.'' Rainfall is high in this region. The tips permit water to run off the leaves quickly, preventing the growth of mold and mildew. In this activity you will compare the leaf of a plant in a temperate forest with one from the tropical rain forest.
Piece of green card stock
Small spray bottle of water
- Divide the card stock into two equal halves.
- On one half draw an oval leaf with a gently rounded tip. On the other half draw an equal size leaf, but give it a very pointed tip.
- Cut out both leaves.
- Hold one leaf in your hand so the tip is pointed away from you. Lower your hand at an angle so the leaf is inclined downward toward a paper towel on the desk top. Mist the top side of the leaf with a couple of quick sprays of water. Note how quickly the water runs off the end of the leaf.
- Repeat this process with the other leaf.
- Which one of the two leaves allowed water to run off quicker?
- Which one of the leaves represented the ''drip tip'' leaf? Explain your answer.
- The leaf with the pointed tip.
- The leaf with the pointed tip represents the "drip tip'' leaf, since it allows water to run off the surface of the leaf sooner than the round tip leaf. Quickly dispelling moisture helps prevent growth of mold and mildew.
Do some research and find three other plant adaptations that enable plants to survive in the tropical rain forest.
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