The Interrelationships Between Plants and Animals in the Australian Rainforest

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The Interrelationships Between Plants and Animals in the Australian Rainforest
The Australian rainforest is a lush, diverse ecosystem. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The rainforest biome is among the most complex ecosystems on the planet. In Australia, the tropical rainforest is home to thousands of plants and animal species, many of which have adapted to unique living conditions. The animals depend on plants for shelter and food, but plants also depend on animals. Animals disperse seeds and help decompose fallen vegetation.

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Wildlife Habitat

The Australian rainforest is host to many species unique to the continent including kangaroos, wallaby's, dugongs, frilled lizards and ring-tailed possums. Large rainforest trees such as the black bean or the Moreton Bay chestnut are essential habitats for the tree kangaroo, a species unique to Australia and New Guinea. Tree hollows are essential habitats for the Leadbetters Possum, an animal on the brink of extinction. The loss of these rainforest plant species is directly resulting in the loss of animals.

The Interrelationships Between Plants and Animals in the Australian Rainforest
Tree kangaroos are dependent on tall rainforest trees for habitat. (Anup Shah/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Wildlife Food

The large fig trees are among some of the most important plant species in the Australian tropics for animals. Many rainforest animals, including bats and birds like the Southern Cassowry and the Double Eyed fig parrot, feed on fruit. Common fruit and nut plants eaten by wildlife include Cycad nuts, Pandanus and Micromelum minutum fruit. Possums, tree rats and kangaroos feed on leaves from hundreds of species, including eucalyptus, a distinctive species in the Australian rainforest.

The Interrelationships Between Plants and Animals in the Australian Rainforest
Figs and other fruit are important food staples of Australian wildlife. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Plant Reproduction

The animals aren't the only ones benefiting from feeding on fruits. The trees that produce these fruits need animals to eat them to spread the seeds. Seeds drop from an animal's grip after being transported to another area; they are deposited as excrement and get caught in bird feathers. This relationship is essential to the propogation of the tree species. Seeds must be spread from a parent plant to allow seedlings to escape competition, evade seed predators and expand the species range.

The Interrelationships Between Plants and Animals in the Australian Rainforest
Not only seed dispersal but pollination is an essential function of forest wildlife. (NA/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Decomposition

One of the most important processes in a rainforest ecosystem happens on the floor. The decomposition of organic material on the forest floor is completed by insects and fungi and necessary for plant growth. This area of the rainforest serves as home to many species, including the largest mammals of the Australian rainforest. As termites, ants and fungi break down the organic matter, they transform it back into plant nutrients.

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