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Flowers Bloom in the Rainforest
In the rainforest, it rains, throughout the year. Tropical rainforests don’t hold the world records for amounts of rainfall, but they make up for it in consistency. In these lowland forests, there may be seasonal variation, but it always rains.
Caiman crocodilus lives in Central and South America. A bony ridge that looks like a pair of glasses gives these caimans their name. Caimans lay hard-shelled eggs in nest mounds constructed of plant debris on the banks of rivers and marshes. The female, and sometimes the male, guard the nest. The young vocalize before and after hatching to attract the parents, who may assist them as they emerge from the nest mound.
Caimans feed primarily on small animals like fish and frogs. They use their teeth to hold, not chew, their prey. Our caiman eats fish, mice, and chicken parts.
Caimans are relatives of crocodiles and alligators (and more distantly, of dinosaurs and birds). Our caiman is Caiman yacare, a South American species similar to the common spectacled caiman. Like other caimans, he is more at home in the water than on land, making his grotto, with depths, shallows, and a heated basking rock, a comfortable home.
Tropical Dry Forest
Unlike the rainforest, tropical dry forests have definite wet and dry seasons. During the wet season, a dry forest may be as wet as a rain forest, but during the dry season, it can be as dry as a desert. In these forests, plants and animals must have adaptations to deal with these seasonal changes in precipitation.
Cloud forests are found on the sides of tropical mountains, literally where the clouds hit the mountain. Even though there may not be as much rainfall as a rainforest, the trees trap the moisture of the clouds (they look like fog when you are in them), which drops to the ground. Cloud forests are “self-watering”. Some cloud forest species are found in the rainforest, or have close relatives there, but others are found nowhere else on earth.
Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants, not as parasites, but simply for support, as a way to grow higher in the canopy, and closer to the light. Rock outcrops are as good a home for these plants as the bark and branches of trees—both environments have little or no soil, little competition from non-epiphytic plants, and more light than the shaded forest floor.