Within the tropical rainforest, there are many relationships between different plants and between plants and animals.

Relationships between Plants

The complex framework of trees and shrubs in the tropical rainforest provides many tiny habitats in which other plants can live.

The dark, damp area at the base of a large tree trunk, particularly between the buttresses, is the perfect environment for mosses and delicate ferns.

Various orchids and large-leafed climbers, which cling on with suckerlike aerial roots, occupy the main part of the trunk, which is mostly shaded, straight and often smooth.

The large branches are level and moist. There is abundant room for plants to attach themselves, to so epiphytic orchids and bromeliad can grow there.

These plants accumulate debris to form their own small patch of peaty soil, which is also a suitable niche for ants, worms and snakes.

The thin outer twigs of the crown, exposed to strong winds, direct sunlight and low humidity, play host to a few orchids and many mosses and lichens which grow when wet and become dormant when dry.

The crown of the tree also supports lianas, large woody climbers, which soar up from the forest floor to hang in loops over the branches of the giant trees.

Relationships Between Plants and Animals

All animals depend on plant food, whether directly or indirectly.

In turn, all plants have their own predators, most of which are insects.

Most plants produce poisonous or distasteful chemicals to discourage herbivores. Each plant also has its own predators that can overcome these toxins.

The color and scent of flowers lures insects, who are looking for pollen and nectar. When insects travel from one plant to another, they carry pollen with them

Birds and bats also pollinate plants

Sometimes, plants and animals depend on each other, as in the case of the fig and the fig wasp that pollinates it.

Ants are found everywhere in the tropical rainforest, but they do not often act as pollinators.

Some species of ants have unusual relationships with ants.

Some live in the hollow stems of particular trees and feed on plant parts that seem to be produced especially for them, and on the excretions of plant-sucking insects that they introduce into their nest and look after.

The ants attack any animal that alights on or touches the plant. They may also attack competing plants.

Nutrients from the debris that these ants accumulate are absorbed by other plants.