How Do Tropical Plants Adapt to Their Environment?

Written by ethan shaw | 13/05/2017
How Do Tropical Plants Adapt to Their Environment?
Tropical plants adapt to everything from rainforests to savannahs. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

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.

Ecological Niches

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

How Do Tropical Plants Adapt to Their Environment?
Fruit bats spread seeds and, in some cases, pollinate flowers. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

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.

Dry Season

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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