Rainforest Layers

To fully understand the rainforest habitats you need to learn about the rainforest layers. Each layer of the rainforest provides homes to many animals, with most animals inhabiting, or prefering to inhabit, a particular layer. However, some animals move between the layers in search of food.

The Rainforest Canopy


Rainforest Canopy

The rainforest canopy is the "roof" of the rainforest and is where most of the rainforest animals live. The leaves and branches of the canopy layer intertwine and form a dense network of interconnected branches. This framework serves as a support system for other plants to live, as well as a framework for animals to build their homes. Most bird species, sloths, monkeys, and snakes make their home in the canopy.

Some trees extend from the canopy and this layer is called the emergent layer. It is above the canopy layer and has fewer plants and trees and lacks the dense vegation framework of the canopy layer. As a result, fewer animals reside there.

Rainforest Understory


bush cricket resting on leaf in rainforest understory

The understory is the rainforest layer inbetween the canopy and the forest floor.

This layer is home to millions of insects and tree frogs, although some of the animals that often inhabit the canopy also make their way to the understory.

Rainforest Floor


As would be expected, the lowest layer of the rainforest is the rainforest floor. Animals commonly found there are anteaters, ants, jaguars, ocelots, and of course all those aquatic animals that inhabit the rainforest rivers and streams, such as caimans and fish.

Oddly enough, the rainforest floor has poor soil quality. However, the floor does provide the proper nutrients and symbiotic relationships with fungi to promote the most intense, beautiful plant growth anywhere on Earth.

However, when the rainforest is cleared out for farming purposes, these crops tend to do poorly in the rainforest soil.

Apparently, the rainforest floor is designed to promote luxurious growth of ferns and trees, but not other crops. Yet another reason to leave the rainforest alone.

Most crops are more likely to thrive in the soil of Heartland America. The Midwestern states, which are part of so-called Heartland America, are known as America's Bread Basket because of the amount of wheat that is grown.