Tropical Forest – Concept, flora, fauna, climate and characteristics

We explain what the tropical forest is, its flora, fauna, relief, climate and other characteristics. Also, tropical forests in Mexico.

tropical forest
Tropical forests have enormous biodiversity.

What is the tropical forest?

Tropical forests are those plant accumulations that are located in the intertropical zone. They are adapted to the warm climate of the tropics, varying instead with respect to their humidity. In some cases, such as the humid tropical forest, they are considered synonymous with the tropical forest, famous for its gigantic biodiversity and richness in plant and animal species.

Thus, tropical forests They can be of three types, according to its relationship with the humidity of the environment:

  • Humid tropical forests. Of abundant and frequent rains, hot and humid climate, like the South American Amazon.
  • Dry tropical forests. Semi-dense and with a lower humidity margin, composed of xerophilic and deciduous species.
  • Monsoon tropical forests. Typical of the monsoon climate that alternates between a very rainy season and a dry season, it is considered the transitional forest between humid and dry.

Tropical forests occupy vast swaths of our continents and are essential for life on the planet. For one thing, they release a large amount of oxygen into the atmosphere daily. On the other hand, they fix a significant portion of the carbon in greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide).

However, they are in danger: deforestation, indiscriminate logging and climate change threaten to end them. With them, the vital wealth of these ecosystems would be lost, so great that many of their endemic species have not yet been discovered by humans. It would be a tragedy if such a treasure were to be lost.

Characteristics of the tropical forest

tropical forest characteristics vietnam
The Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve is a tropical forest in Vietnam.

It is a kind of forest with a lot of leafiness and a lot of height. It is made up of a wide variety of large-leaved, evergreen species, capable of maintaining the humidity of the environment even during the dry season.

These jungles stretch for miles and are characteristic of Central America, South America, East Africa (especially Madagascar) and Asia minor: Malaysia, Borneo or the Indochinese region: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia.

Relief of the tropical forest

Tropical forests proliferate in various reliefs, both in plains, valleys and foothills, as well as on mountain slopes, where they present vegetal and climatic steps as the height increases, giving rise to mountain forests.

They tend to abound on the borders of rivers, lakes and it is not uncommon for them to give way to wetlands or mangroves as they approach the sea.

Tropical forest fauna

tropical forest fauna spider monkey
The spider monkey is one of the famous species of the tropical forest.

The biodiversity of tropical forests is unmatched, especially in the case of humid forests. Only certain marine coral reef ecosystems resemble it.

The number of species of insects, arachnids, reptiles, amphibians, marsupials and mammals, as well as small, medium and large birds is truly enormous. They even inhabit human beings more or less integrated into civilization, mainly on its external borders.

Among the species considered famous of the tropical forest are the South American toucans, the Asian orangutans, the tapir, the golden eagle, and even the devastating or grass-cutting ants. The cute spider or tarantula, as well as the spider monkey, are some of the fascinating species that inhabit these forests.

Tropical forest flora

tropical forest flora orchid
In the tropical forest you can find most of the flowers, such as orchids.

The flora of the tropical forest is also diverse and tall, leafy and evergreen. The large branches and leaves absorb the intense sunlight, only 2% of which reaches the ground, given the dense forest. This also provides the soil and decomposing species with abundant organic matter and a large layer of humus.

The trees of the tropical forest reach up to 30 meters in height, and among them floral species predominate, so much so that it is estimated 2/3 of all the flowers in the world are found in these forests.

The variety is enormous, reaching 100 different species in just one hectare of forest. However, we can mention orchids, bananas, rubber trees, bromeliads and poinsettias as typical plant species.

Tropical forest climate

The tropical climate is generally warm, with temperatures always above 18 ° C They reach various degrees above 30 ° C. It is a very stable climate, without seasons that make the temperature vary.

Nevertheless, a rainy season and a dry season are distinguished. Rainfall is abundant during the rainy season, reaching or exceeding 3000 mm of rain, and non-existent during the dry season, obviously.

Tropical forests in Mexico

tropical forest chiapas mexico blue water
The Agua Azul waterfalls are part of the tropical forest of Chiapas.

The Mexican tropical forests are found towards the southeast of the country, extending towards the territory of Guatemala. In the states of Chiapas, Tabasco and Campeche, and in the Yucatan peninsulaThese long stretches of humid forest present a high number of endemic species.

There are many initiatives to protect these ecosystems from indiscriminate logging. It is estimated that in 1940 the Lacandon jungle covered some 15,000 square km, figures that today are well below.