Found in the tropical climate near the equator, rain forests make up six percent of the earth's land surface, but produce 40 percent of its oxygen.
The rain forest is made up of four layers: emergent, upper canopy, understory, and forest floor. Emergent trees grow far apart and tall, their branches reaching above the canopy. The upper canopy houses most of the rain forest's animal species, and forms a roof that blocks most light from reaching below it. The understory, usually shaded and home to bushes and shrubs as well as the branches of canopy trees. The forest floor is in complete shade, meaning there is little likelihood of plants growing there and making it easy to walk through the forest.
The rain forest is nearly self-watering. Plants release water into the atmosphere through a process called transpiration. In the tropics, each canopy tree can release about 200 gallons (760 litres) of water each year. The moisture helps create the thick cloud cover that hangs over most rain forests. Even when not raining, these clouds keep the rain forest humid and warm.
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