Tropical plants can be dizzying in their diversity. High temperatures and substantial, though often seasonal, precipitation characterise their low-latitude habitats, where the plants exhibit several adaptations for functioning in their local ecological systems.
In a tropical forest, several distinct ecological layers are often discernible, and partly represent a host of plant species taking advantage of different niches to reduce competition and maximise resource-use. From towering, broadleaved evergreens in the upper canopy to epiphytic vines in the understory, a great diversity of species share close quarters in this community.
Pollination and Dispersal
Many tropical plants utilise animals in their reproduction, with nectar-eaters such as hummingbirds pollinating their flowers and frugivores such as fruit bats and chimpanzees distributing their seeds. The relationships can be complex: Better than 700 kinds of tropical figs have evolved in concert with their own respective pollinating fig wasp.
In tropical areas that experience a distinct dry season, certain trees may adopt a deciduous lifestyle, dropping their leaves during extended droughts to avoid dessication. The massive baobabs of tropical Africa and Australasia are examples.
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