Understory Layer Animals And Their Absolutely Amazing Adaptations

Martha Martins
Oct 19, 2023 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Jan 14, 2022
Trees and plants absorb a lot of carbon dioxide

Rainforests are vitally important for the health of our planet and the survival of the human race.

Trees use their roots to draw water out of the ground, then release it into the air as water vapor. If the rainforests were to disappear, there would soon be drought, famine, and disease all across the world.

Trees and plants absorb a lot of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, which helps to prevent global warming. Tropical rainforests are the perfect habitat for over 30 million unique species of plants and animals.

Harpy eagles, pygmy gliders, and more can be found here. Many of these plants and animals are uniquely adapted to their rainforest habitats. Layers of rainforests and ocean zones receive similar sunlight depending on the layer or zone, but differ in terms of water content, salinity and pressure.

Layers Of The Rainforest

There are four layers in a rainforest. The forest floor is the bottom layer. This layer is gigantic and stretches as far and wide as the forest. It comprises leaves, roots, shoots, branches, soil, and decaying matter.

The forest floor is also the habitat of many other animals such as large cats, deer, or reptiles like frogs and snakes, who find comfort in the cool shade and can hide away from predators in the undergrowth and watch their unsuspecting prey. Only about 2% of sunlight hits this layer.

The second layer in a rainforest is the understory layer. This layer is above the forest floor and below the forest canopy layer.

It's the most colorful part of the rainforest. The canopy layer is formed by the thick canopy trees having dense tree branches, layers, and tree trunks. Usually, many trees in tropical rainforests have dense tree branches and tree trunks.

Strong winds are protected by the canopy layer. In this layer, there are many strange and wondrous tropical plants and flowers. For example, the orchid can be found in the understory layer where the climate is warm and damp, a perfect place for plants and animals to thrive.

Geckos, birds, lizards, and various species can be found in the understory layer of the Daintree Rainforest. In a typical rainforest, you will see a large variety of different species.

The third layer from the ground is the canopy layer. This layer of the rainforest is the thickest part of the rainforest layer.

This is the part of the rainforest layers that takes the most sunlight blocking the rays from the understory layer and forest floor. The canopy sits below the emergent layer of the rainforest and above the understory.

This is where the monkeys such as the howler monkeys swing, and birds such as toucans hide in the trees away from predators.

The emergent layer is the rainforest's top layer. We know it as the sunlit zone.

In the treetops, the climate can change drastically and it can become very windy quickly. The emergent layer is made up of some of the oldest and tallest trees in the rainforest. These trees can grow up to 249 ft (76 m) tall and some have enormous thick trunks nearly 16 ft (5 m) wide.

Some common animals that live in the emergent layer include monkeys, birds, butterflies, and bats. The Amazon rainforest is a habitat for many small creatures and small mammals other than just broad-leaved small trees, tall trees, and towering trees with emergent layers. The understory plants which are young trees have tropical rainforest layers.

The primary layer, which is the forest floor layer comprises dense vegetation and shrub layer. There are even climbing plants, among other tropical rainforest trees.

Sunlight In The Understory Layer

The canopy of tropical forests which is above the understory layer obstructs around 95% of the sunlight. The understory, as a result, gets less sunlight than vegetation within the canopy and the sunlight that penetrates is not as effective in wavelengths as the sunlight, which is very useful for photosynthesis.

Understory vegetation consequently should be color tolerant. They should be capable of photosynthesizing properly the usage of such sunlight that hits their leaves. They mostly can use wavelengths that canopy vegetation cannot. 

In temperate deciduous forests, to grow leaves earlier than the canopy trees do toward the end of the leafless season, understory vegetation takes benefit of the refuge of the motionless leafless canopy vegetation. This is vital as it offers the understory vegetation a window wherein to photosynthesize without the canopy shading them.

This short duration (normally one to two weeks) is a vital period wherein the plant can keep net high-quality carbon stability over the course of the year.

Precipitation In The Understory Layer

Rainforests get a minimum of 100 in (254 cm) of rain every year. Whether tropical or temperate, branches develop close to the treetops on the way, to get daylight.

Because of the thick cover layer, the understory is pretty dark. The air is still, and a simple and more potent gust of wind ripples through.

If you stood amongst understory timber in the course of a rainstorm, it would take a while to feel the first few raindrops. The canopy layer blocks tons of that 100 in (254 cm) of rain, regardless of rainforests' common and heavy downpours.

How Animals Adaptation In The Understory Layer

Lots of animals and plants exist in the different layers of rainforests. Talking about the understory layer, there are lots of different animals living in the layer. Some plants and common animals include jaguars, leopards, Heliconia stricta, postman butterfly, greater bulldog bat, praying mantis, and red-eyed tree frogs.

These animals that live in this layer are good at camouflaging themselves.

Along with plants and animals in the understory layer, there are a good amount of insects living here such as stick insects, bees, beetles, bullet ants, and butterflies. Since the understory layer is in between the forest floor layer and the canopy layer, it makes it perfect for insects to live as it is very hot.

Preserving The Rainforests

The rainforest is vital to everyone, regardless of where we live, but there are many problems. Logging, mining, agriculture, and fires are all destroying the world's rainforests.

If we lose the rainforests, many of the animals we love will quickly become extinct. Millions of people who rely on the forest for food, water, and livelihoods would be forced to leave their homes and the global climate crisis would rapidly reach the point of no return, leaving our planet uninhabitable.

Planting trees and sustainable living are some ways to save the rainforest, as well as the broader environment.

This reality is getting closer as people are destroying thousands of acres of rainforests around the world every single day and we are running out of time. It's critical that we all come together to preserve the rainforests.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

Read full bio >