We explain what the jungle is and how it differs from deserts. Animals and vegetation of the jungle. The Amazon jungle.
What is the jungle?
When we talk about Jungle, jungle or tropical rainforest, we refer primarily to a bioclimatic landscape, characterized by frequent rainfall , warm weather and abundant vegetation, organized at different levels of height.
However, there is no clear definition that distinguishes or reconciles these different terms, used more or less arbitrarily, usually with climatic additions such as tropical rainforest or equatorial rainforest, depending on their geographical location.
In the different forests of the planet there are practically two thirds of the total biomass of the planet, which represents an incredible biodiversity : millions of plant and animal species, many still to be discovered by mankind.
The jungles are also the largest centers of oxygen generation in the world (they produce almost 40% of it) and ecological shelters that house even pre-modern human communities, just like the Yanomami tribes in the Amazon.
However, large areas of the Earth are under siege by wood or paper industries, or by the constant expansion of the urban area of our large cities .
Activities such as illegal mining ( Brazilian garimpeiros , for example, in the Amazon) also generate a huge environmental impact , much more drastic and accelerated, due to the use of polluting substances such as mercury, and extraction methods that deteriorate the soil so semi-permanent.
In the 1990s there was an increase in the pace of global deforestation, reducing the area covered by forests and jungles from 14% of the total land to just 6%, losing an annual average of 58,000 square kilometers. If this rhythm of plant destruction continues, in 2050 they will have virtually disappeared from the planet.
The fauna of the jungle varies according to its geographical location and its evolutionary history, but it is usually varied, abundant and rich in exchanges between species. In broad strokes we could organize them into the following categories:
- Large predators . Like the felines of medium and superior size: jaguars, panthers, tigers, pumas, capable of chasing prey among the foliage. Also birds of prey such as the hawk, the eagle or the night owl or the hunting and constrictor snakes (boa, anaconda, etc.).
- Herbivores of medium and large size . Especially quadrupeds like danta or tapir, or in the African jungles, elephants and hippos, large ruminants.
- Insects and arachnids . Thousands, perhaps millions of species of insects and arachnids make up an entire ecosystem in themselves, linking with the flora they feed on (fruits, leaves, nectar, bark, etc.) and feeding rodents, birds and other insects or arachnids Spiders, scorpions and praying mantises are not scarce either.
- Rodents . Abundant in the fabric of the trees or in the undergrowth litter, they usually cover a whole range of climbers, runners and egg raiders. Many are scavengers.
- Small and medium birds . Birds of different sizes, usually endowed with colorful feathers and specialized beaks in obtaining food inside logs, water, land or for the predation of minor species.
- Primates . Chimpanzees, orangutans and other close cousins of man .
The jungle flora is particularly abundant, due to high levels of humidity and precipitation, when not derived from rivers and lagoons or mangroves.
Usually all levels of vegetation are found in the jungle , from the creek and shrub, to the large trees with leafy canopies, and the flat parasites on them. There is in these cases a fierce struggle for light, so many species resort to various strategies to survive.
The Amazon is located in South America , in part of the territory of the nations of Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Guyana, French Guyana and Suriname. It is one of the largest areas of tropical rainforest in the world , where millions of plant and animal species coexist, which has earned it the distinction of being one of the seven natural wonders of the planet.
The Amazon rainforest develops in the adjacencies of the Amazon River and its river basin , where the warm and rainy climate predominates, taking advantage of an evergreen and abundant vegetation. In its approach to Peru and the Andean mountain range, the jungle also gains several stories high and increases its biodiversity even more.
The desert is often considered the ecoregion contrary to the forests. It is an arid zone, with little or no precipitation, and therefore low fertility and low life, adapted to extreme temperature conditions (intense heat during the day, cold at night) and drought.
At present, deserts occupy around 50 million square kilometers of the earth’s surface , that is, almost one third of the planet.