Rain Forest (Encyclopedia of Science)
Rain forests are ecosystems characterized by high annual precipitation and an abundance of many large trees, generally of very old age. (An ecosystem is an ecological community, or the plants, animals, and microorganisms in a region considered together with their environment.) Rain forests can be found in both tropical and temperate regions. (Temperate regions have mild or moderate climates; tropical regions have high enough temperatures and enough rain to support plant growth year round.) Rain forests require a humid climate, with an average precipitation of at least 80 to 100 inches (200 to 250 centimeters) per year. Because of the great amount of precipitation, forest fires occur only rarely. As a result, trees in a rain forest are able to grow to a very large size and a very old age.
Tropical rain forests
Tropical rain forests can be found in equatorial regions of Central and South America, west-central Africa, and Southeast Asia, including New Guinea and the northeastern coast of Australia. Tropical rain forests are the most complex of the world's ecosystems in terms of both their physical structure and the tremendous biodiversity of species they support. Because they support such a wide variety and number of plants, animals, and microorganisms, tropical rain forests represent the highest peak of ecosystem development on Earth.
(The entire section is 1033 words.)
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