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Image of a Tropical Rainforest.Tropical Rainforest
The tropical rainforest is a hot, moist biome found near Earth's equator. The world's largest tropical rainforests are in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Tropical rainforests receive from 60 to 160 inches of precipitation that is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The combination of constant warmth and abundant moisture makes the tropical rainforest a suitable environment for many plants and animals. Tropical rainforests contain the greatest biodiversity in the world. Over 15 million species of plants and animals live within this biome. Photo Gayle W. Croft

The hot and humid conditions make tropical rainforests an ideal environment for bacteria and other microorganisms. Because these organisms remain active throughout the year, they quickly decompose matter on the forest floor. In other biomes, such as the deciduous forest, the decomposition of leaf litter adds nutrients to the soil. But in the tropical rainforest, plants grow so fast that they rapidly consume the nutrients from the decomposed leaf litter. As a result, most of the nutrients are contained in the trees and other plants rather than in the soil. Most nutrients that are absorbed into the soil are leached out by the abundant rainfall, which leaves the soil infertile and acidic.

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Animals | Plants

Biomes | Biome Summary | How to Read a Climograph | Arctic Tundra | Deciduous Forest | Desert | Taiga | Tropical Rainforest | Tropical Savannah

Diversity | Adaptation | Plate Tectonics | Cycles | Spheres | Biomes | Geologic Time

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April 28, 2005

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