Animals of the canopy

The great vertical development of the vegetation forced many animal species to adapt to move on trees and in the air to reach many sources of food, such as leaves, flowers, seeds and fruits that are in the tall foliage.
In some tropical areas (for instance in Borneo), the arboreal species make up 45% of the total amount; in temperate forests, they are only 5 – 15%. The morphological adaptations developed by some species include: prehensile tails, extremely developed muscles, claws that have a grip on trunks and branches (for instance the arboreal pangolin, Mamis spp. in Asia and Africa).
Birds of the canopy
Birds, such as, for instance, the Ara macao parrot, have adapted to fly in a thick and tangled environment: short and rounded wings, long tails to orient themselves better.
Under the canopy and on tall branches there are monkeys, slothes with large, strong nails they use to hang from branches, small birds feeding on nectar (hummingbirds in America, sunbirds in Africa), many-coloured birds (toucans, parrots, birds of paradise), arboreal snakes, large butterflies, bats (flying foxes).
Gliding birds
The so-called “extreme” adaptations to arboreal life are the “flying” species that are for instance in the Borneo forest: these species have a membrane stretching from their body to their upper limbs forming a surface large enough to hold the animal as it flies. In addition to the many species of flying squirrels (Petaurista spp. and others) inhabiting other regions as well and the flying lemur or cynocephalus (Cynocephalus variegatus), there are also a flying tree frog (Racophorus nigropalmatus), a flying snake (Chrysopelea pelias) and a flying lizard (Draco volitans). These animals are all provided with membranes and protrusions that let them glide from the forest foliage. They cover considerable distances: approximately 50 metres for a snake and over 500 metres for the Cynocephalus.
In this biome, there are comparatively few large mammals. Unlike those of savannahs, they do not live in packs nor hunt together, but live alone or in pairs.
Amidst the luxuriant vegetation, the field of vision is very limited and this is why many animal species rely on their sense of smell and hearing rather than on sight (especially insects, birds, frogs, pro-simians and monkeys).
In the tropical forest, most animal activities take place at dawn, at dusk and at night, when such animals as bats, tree frogs (Dendrobates spp.) and lemurs start to come out and fill the forest with all sorts of noises.

 

Special reports

From the Multimedia section

Facts