Tropical Rain Forest Canopy and the Life Below it (page 2)

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Author: Janice VanCleave


The trees in the emergent layer grow separately from one another so their leaves do not overlap and block sunlight from plants below. They also have small leaves on their stems, allowing sunlight to pass through as in the emergent tree model in this experiment. But the trees of the canopy layer are very close together, and many have large leaves, like the one in this activity. Each leaf not only blocks a great deal of light, but is crowded together with other leaves so they form an umbrella that blocks most of the light from reaching the next layer down. The pointed tip aids in the flow of rainwater off the leaves.

Forest Canopy and Below

More Fun with Trees!

Trees have three main parts. The crown (leaves and branches that make up a tree's leafy head) and the trunk are above ground, and most roots, which anchor the tree, are below ground. The shape of a tree's crown can vary. Discover how many different crown shapes the trees in your neighborhood or local park have. Do this by observing the trees and making a Crown Shape Data table like the one below. You might want to list the common shapes of triangle, oval, and rectangle and then have a column for others. Make a drawing of each shape you observe.

Book List

  • Bernard, Robin. Rain Forest. New York: Scholastic, 1995. Information and hands-on activities about rain forests, including the layering of the forest plants.
  • National Wildlife Federation. Rain Forests: Tropical Treasures. New York: Learning Triangle Press, 1997. Activities, games, and information about tropical rain forests.
  • Taylor, Barbara. Rain Forest. New York: DK Publishing, 1998. Photographs and information about the living organisms of rain forests.
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