Explaining the interdependence and importance of a forest ecosystem.
A forest is a large area of land covered by a thick growth of trees and other plants. It is the home of many different birds, insects and other animals.
A forest consists of several layers of plants. The uppermost layer is called the canopy. The canopy consists of branches and leaves of the tallest trees in the forest. The canopy receives much sunlight. The middle layer consists of shorter trees, shrubs and herbs. There are some open spaces where animals move about. The lowest layer, the forest floor, is made up of carpets of moss and decayed matter from plants and animals.
All plants, animals and other organisms in a forest need energy to stay alive. As in any other ecosystem, the main source of energy in the forest is the sun. All other organisms depend on plants to get energy of sunlight.
Since canopy receives the most amount of sunlight, it produces the most food. Insects, birds and mammals feed on the leaves and fruits in the canopy. Some birds feed on insects. Inside the forest are animals such as mice, snakes, turtles, deer and other mammals. Some of these animals feed on shrubs and herbs. Some animals feed on other animals.
The forest floor is covered with fallen leaves and small plants like moss. Wastes from animals in the upper layers drop and accumulate on the forest floor. Earthworms, bacteria and fungi are found here. These organisms feed on the wastes and the remains of dead plants and animals. In doing so, they return the nutrients to the soil and to the air to be used again by the plants to make food.
Woody vines, also called lianas, abound in the forest. They climb up the tallest trees to get a share of the light falling on the canopy. Plants depend on the sun’s energy and the inorganic nutrients in the forest to make food. Animals eat plants and other animals to get energy they need to grow and live.
Cooperation and competition are evident in a forest ecosystem. Some organisms in the forest need the cooperation of other organisms so that they will survive. For example, epiphytes like orchids grow on branches of tall trees so that they can get sunlight. Without sunlight, they would die. Many birds, insects and other animals depend on plants for food. The plants, in turn, depend on the animals to pollinate their flowers or to disperse their seeds that will grow into new plants.