# The layers of the Amazon

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The layers of the Amazon
Rainforests are very tall, dense forests made up of lots of plants and animals. They can be separated into four different layers: Different plants and animals live in each layer

The layers of the Amazon
Emergent layer This is the tops of the tallest trees in the forest. They can be up to 200 feet tall! This layer gets lots of sunlight. Can you stand up and stretch your arms up like the trees in this layer?

The layers of the Amazon
Canopy This is the main roof of the forest. All the treetops grow closely together. There are lots of fruits and flowers to eat which means lots of animals live in this layer. Can you stretch your arms out wide like the trees in the canopy?

The layers of the Amazon
Understory This layer is made up of smaller trees and plants. Not much sunlight gets through the layer above so the plants have big leaves to catch the sunlight where they can. Now sit down and spread your hands and arms wide like the plants in the understory.

The layers of the Amazon
Forest floor Hardly any sunlight reaches the bottom layer so it is dark and stuffy here. Not many plants can grow here but there are lots of dead leaves which makes it a good home for insects. Can you curl up tight like the leaves on the forest floor?

Guess the layer Now you know what each layer is like, can you guess which layer of the Amazon these animals live in… If you think emergent, then stand up really tall and put your hands in the air. If you think canopy then stand up with your arms out wide If you think the understory then sit down with your arms and hands stretched out in front of you If you think the forest floor then curl up really small.

Guess the layer Harpy eagle

Guess the layer The harpy eagle lives in the emergent layer at the top of the forest.

Guess the layer Sloth

Guess the layer The sloth lives in the canopy of the forest to try and stay away from the quicker predators on the ground.

Guess the layer Jaguar © DAVID LAWSON WWF-UK

Guess the layer The jaguar lives on the forest floor but can also climb up to catch the animals that live there. © DAVID LAWSON WWF-UK

Guess the layer Toucan

Guess the layer The toucan lives in the canopy where it uses its huge beak to crack open hard nuts.

Guess the layer Tree frog © ZIG KOCH / WWF

Guess the layer The tree frog lives on the leaves in the damp understory of the rainforest. © ZIG KOCH / WWF

Guess the layer Agouti © ANTHONY B. RATH / WWF-CANON

Guess the layer The agouti lives on the forest floor where it roots around for nuts and fruits which have fallen from the canopy above. © ANTHONY B. RATH / WWF-CANON

Guess the layer Leafcutter ant © MARTIN HARVEY/WWF-CANON

Guess the layer The leafcutter ant climbs tall trees to collect green leaves to grow fungus that they can eat. Its home is on the forest floor. © MARTIN HARVEY/WWF-CANON

Adapted for life Animals can live in all sorts of different areas, from deserts to rainforests. Most animals have a particular set of conditions which they like to live in.

Adapted for life A place with this set of conditions is called their habitat. You can think of it as an animal’s home. © ZIG KOCH / WWF

Adapted for life After a species of animal has lived in a habitat with a specific set of conditions for millions of years, it’s body can begin to change, making it easier to survive there. These changes are called adaptations.

Sometimes an adaptation will help them to find food. On other occasions it will allow them to live in extremely hot or cold conditions.

Adapted for life Look at the pictures of these animals from the Amazon rainforest and try to identify what their adaptation is and how it helps them…

Adapted for life Tapir The tapir has developed a long flexible nose which it uses to rummage on the ground for food.

Many of the nuts and fruits in the Amazon have developed a tough outer layer to help protect them from being eaten. This doesn’t work with a toucan though as they have developed a huge tough beak which they can use for cracking most nuts.

The agouti’s strong jaw muscles mean it is one of the few animals capable of chewing through the very hard Brazil nut pod to reach the nuts inside. © ANTHONY B. RATH / WWF-CANON

The jaguar has developed the perfect disguise for the dappled light which falls on the forest floor – it’s beautiful spotted coat!

The spider monkey lives at the top of tall trees in the Amazon, almost never coming to the ground. It has developed an incredibly strong and flexible tail which it can use as an extra arm to hang from when collecting fruit.

Transpiration Plants play a vital role in creating humidity. The leaves of every plant give off water vapour in a process called transpiration. In the Amazon rainforest the trees and plants pass millions of litres of water vapour into the air each day. This vapour forms thick clouds of tiny water droplets, which is why the rainforest is always wet!

Sucked up the stem and Into the leaves’ instead of capillary action Other labels remain unchanged

Photosynthesis Photosynthesis is the process that plants use to make food from the sunlight and the water in the ground. Green leaves take in water and carbon dioxide and turn them into glucose (sugar) and oxygen.

Photosynthesis Redraw diagram with Much larger leaves And remove the label Chlorophyll The glucose flows to all parts of the plant giving it the energy it needs to grow. The oxygen escapes through tiny holes in the underside of the leaves back into the atmosphere.

Photosynthesis We need places like the Amazon rainforest because the densely packed trees and plants help to absorb the carbon dioxide that we generate and turn it back into oxygen for us to breathe – fresh clean air. Insert panned out image of Amazon rainforest

Nature trail Compare the animals you met on your nature trail to these animals which can be found in the Amazon rainforest!

Nature trail The titan beetle can grow up to 16.5 centimetres long!

Nature trail This blue-fanged tarantula likes to eat birds.

Nature trail The praying mantis uses its long pincers to catch its dinner. © ZIG KOCH / WWF

Nature trail Many of the Amazon’s frogs choose to live in trees instead of ponds! © ZIG KOCH / WWF

Nature trail The harpy eagle is the king of the skies in the Amazon.

Nature trail The black caiman can grow to a massive five metres.
© André / Bärtschi / WWF-Canon

Food chains All living things (plants and animals) need energy to survive. Plants normally get their energy through capturing the sun’s energy (photosynthesis). Animals either need to eat plants (e.g. leaves or fruit) or other animals in order to create energy.

Food chains Food chains can be used to show what eats what.
For example…. Leaves Ants A food chain must always start with a plant as they catch their energy from the sun.

Food chains A food chain can only travel in one direction. This direction is shown using an arrow. E.g. the monkey eats the fruit, the ocelot eats the monkey. Fruit Spider monkey Ocelot

The water cycle The water cycle is the name for the journey which water takes from the sky to the earth and back again.

The water cycle It relies on three really important processes:
Evaporation: This is when water heats up and turns from a liquid to a gas. Condensation: The opposite of evaporation, when water turns from a gas to a liquid. Precipitation: This is water that falls from the sky. It could be in the form of rain, snow, sleet or hail.

The water cycle The water cycle is really important because it keeps bringing fresh water to the land. Look at the diagram on your worksheet and see if you can attach the correct label to each part of the water cycle to show how it works.

The carbon cycle All living things are made from carbon. This includes animals, trees and flowers! Carbon is even part of the air we breathe. When it is attached to oxygen it is called carbon dioxide. Plants use carbon dioxide and sunlight to grow. They absorb the carbon dioxide and turn it into carbon which they store.

The carbon cycle When plants die and decompose the carbon they had stored inside them goes back into the earth. This can then be absorbed by other plants who use it to grow. It can also turn into fossil fuels although this can take millions of years.

The carbon cycle When we burn fossil fuels or trees the carbon that they had stored inside them goes back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. This can all be shown as the carbon cycle.

The carbon cycle

The carbon cycle Why do you think the Amazon is so important in the carbon cycle? © Zig Koch / WWF

The carbon cycle If we burn down lots of trees and fossil fuels then more carbon dioxide will go into the atmosphere. If we have destroyed lots of trees then there will also be fewer available to absorb the carbon dioxide so some will stay in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is one of the main contributors to climate change.