MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: During flooding in the rainforest how do forest floor animals survive?

Date: Fri Apr 30 08:47:56 1999
Posted By: Charles McClaugherty, Faculty, Environmental Science (Ecology), Mount Union College
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 924311495.Zo

There are two basic types of flooding in the rain forests.  The best known 
is the large annual flood cycle along the Amazon that corresponds to 
alternating wet and not-so-wet sesons.  The change in depth can be large 
and the area of ground covered at the height of the flood is immense.  
However, these floods have been happening on a predictable and regular 
basis for many years and the organisms that live there are well adapted. 
There is a very nioce chapter on this process in the book "Neotropical 
Companion, 2nd edition", by Kricher.  It is an excellent and readable 
source of information on the topics, including the Amazon flooding. These 
floods come slowly and leave slowly, so larger animals have plenty of time 
to move.  No doubt, many smaller animals, especially invertebrates, will 
perish, but even they may survive by the timing and location of their 
resting stages (eg egs or cocoons).  The other type of flooding occurs in 
more mountainous regions of the tropics where flash floods can cause a 
dramatic increase in water depth over a very short period of time.  In this 
case,  many organisms will perish including larger vertebrates.  Some will 
survivie but will be washed down the valleys from thier home.  Often the 
flooding uprots trees and washes out entire floodplains.  

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