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Ecological responses to the climate and soil moisture budget – adaptations by vegetation and animals

Adaptations by vegetation

The video below provides an overview of some of the different ways vegetation in the equatorial tropical rainforest has adapted to the climate and soil.

Key Adaptations

There are a number of ways vegetation has adapted to the climate and soil in the equatorial rainforest. These include:

  • emergents grow very tall and straight so they can get as much sunlights as possible. They can grow over 40m high and are supported by buttress roots;
  • roots are shallow so that they can absorb nutrients from the humous (as the result of the rapid decomposition of litter) and wide to support the large trees that can grow over 200ft as they compete for sunlight;
  • lianas are vine-like plants which have adapted to life in the rainforest by using large trees as support to climb up to the canopy for sunlight;
  • some plants called epiphytes (Latin for “upon the plant”) grow on the tree bark without an soil;
  • many plants have large, waxy leaves which allows the rapid run off of rain water. This stops leaves rotting and encourages water to make its way to the ground;
  • leaf stems are also flexible to allow leaves to move with the sun to maximise photosynthesis.


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