Like all forests, the Tropical Forest can be divided vertically into a number of layers, storeys or strata. The amount of sunlight, temperature and humidity vary from ground level to the tree tops, making each layer especially well suited to certain types of plants. For instance, orchids, which are epiphytic (meaning that they grow on trees) herbaceous plants, grow in the upper layers.

To find food or shelter, animals also choose the layer that best meets their needs. That doesn’t prevent them from visiting the other layers from time to time, though.

There are various ways of identifying these layers. Here is a simple three-level method useful for the Tropical Forest at the Montréal Biodôme.
Like all forests, the Tropical Forest can be divided vertically into a number of layers, storeys or strata. The amount of sunlight, temperature and humidity vary from ground level to the tree tops, making each layer especially well suited to certain types of plants. For instance, orchids, which are epiphytic (meaning that they grow on trees) herbaceous plants, grow in the upper layers.

To find food or shelter, animals also choose the layer that best meets their needs. That doesn’t prevent them from visiting the other layers from time to time, though.

There are various ways of identifying these layers. Here is a simple three-level method useful for the Tropical Forest at the Montréal Biodôme.

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved

Biodôme’s Tropical Forest

Tree layer : medium-sized and tall trees.

Shrub layer : shrubs and bushes.

Herbaceous layer : herbaceous plants on the ground.

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Tree Layer

Because of limited space (the glass roof prevents trees from growing any taller), the tree layer at the Biodôme isn’t as well developed as in the wild.

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


White-tailed Trogon

White-tailed trogons are attractive birds that eat berries, insects, lizards and seeds. These birds sometimes dig their nests in termite nests they find on trees.

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Roseate spoonbill

Although they feed in the marsh, the roseate spoonbills at the Biodôme spend most of their days resting high in the tall trees.

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Two-toed sloth

Two-toed sloths are camouflaged by the leaves of tall trees. They eat leaves, fruit and small animals.

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Green iguana

These large lizards climb high into trees to eat their leaves and fruit, and to bask in the warm sunshine.

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Green honeycreeper

Green honeycreepers are very tiny, green, blue and black birds. They use their long pointed beaks to sip flower nectar. They also eat berries and a few insects.

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Green Aracari

Green aracaris are members of the toucan family. They eat berries and sometimes rob eggs from other birds’ nests. They nest in holes in tree trunks and can sometimes be seen resting there in small groups.

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Scarlet macaw

These large parrots eat the fruit and nuts they find in the forest canopy. They nest in holes in tree trunks left by woodpeckers.

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Golden-hooded tanager

These birds belong to the tanager family. They eat berries and seeds and insects that they find on tree leaves.

Biodôme de Montréal

© Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Learn more about the ecosystems in the Americas;
  • Observe the diversity that each ecosystem offers regarding the flora, fauna as well as climate;
  • Identify the elements that shape different ecosystems, such as vegetation, wildlife, soil, etc.;
  • Develop different causes and consequences of human actions on ecosystems (from grade 4);
  • Formulate and justify possible solutions on issues, such as global warming, in order to preserve our ecosystems and biodiversity on Earth (from grade 6).

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