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All About Rainforests!

Geography
Introduction to Rainforests Layers or Strata Where are Rainforests? Animals of the Rainforest Rainforest Glossary Printables, Worksheets, and Activities

Rainforest Glossary
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Click on an underlined word for more information on that subject.
If the rainforest term you are looking for is not in the dictionary, please e-mail us.

C


CACAO

The cacao plant (Theobroma cacao) is a evergreen flowering tree native to wet, warm forests of South and Central America. This tree grows to 40 feet (12 m) tall. After flowering, 10 to 14-inch long red fruit pods develop. In each pod are almond-shaped cacao beans and pulp. Chocolate is made from the beans in the pods of the cacao plant.


CAIMAN

The caiman (Caiman crocodilus) is a widely distributed, medium-sized crocodilian. It is about 6.5-8 ft (2-2.5 m) long. The caiman is widely distributed in central American and northern South America, ranging from southern Mexico to Peru and Brazil. The caiman is the most widely distributed of the New World crocodilians; it is found in almost all of the lowland wetlands and riverine habitats in its range. It prefers still, fresh water. Juveniles are yellow with black spots and bands; adults are a dull olive green with a whitish belly. These carnivores eat fish (including piranha), amphibians, reptiles and water birds with their 72-78 teeth. Females lay about 22 eggs in late summer in soil-and-vegetation nests.


CAMOUFLAGE

Camouflage is a coloration and/or pattern that makes an organism blend in with its envirnoment, effectively hiding the organism from predators. For example, the Australian leafwing butterfly is shaped and colored like a leaf, and is very difficult to detect when it is standing still.


CANOPY

The canopy is the upper parts of the trees of a rainforest (about 65 to 130 feet or 20 to 40 m). This leafy environment is full of life in a tropical rainforest and includes insects, birds, reptiles, mammals, and more.

CAPYBARA

The capybara is the world's largest rodent. It has no tail and partially webbed feet and lives on river banks.


CARNIVORE

Carnivores are animals that eat meat. They usually have sharp teeth and powerful jaws.

CARRYING CAPACITY

The carrying capacity of an area is the maximum number of animals of a given species that can live there. This number is limited by the amount of food in that region, by the amount of sheltering area required by the species, and other factors. The carrying capacity of a region is very difficult to calculate.


CASSOWARY

A huge, flightless bird from Australia with a helmet-like crest on its head.
caterpillar

CATERPILLAR

A caterpillar is the larval stage of butterflies and moths. Caterpillars eat almost constantly and molt many times as they grow.


CELL

A cell is the basic organizational unit of living organisms.


CELL

A cell is a closed area of an insect wing that is bounded by veins.

CENOZOIC ERA

The "Age of Mammals" (65 million years ago to today), saw the emergence of familiar life forms, humans, the modern look of the continents, and a cooling climate. The Cenozoic followed the Mesozoic Era.

CERRADO

The cerrado is a grassy, treeless plain that surrounds the Brazilian rainforest.

CHARACTER

A character is a inherited trait of an organism. Characters are usually described in terms of a state, for example: "blue eyes" vs. "brown eyes," where "eyes" is the character, and "blue" and "brown" are its states.


CHIMPANZEE

Chimpanzees are very intelligent primates.


CHITIN

Chitin is a tough, colorless nitrogenous polysaccharide that is a major component of the hard exoskeleton of insects (and other arthropods).


CHLAMYDOSAURUS

Chlamydosaurus (meaning "caped lizard") is a rare, modern-day frilled lizard native to New Guinea and North Australia. Its frill is 7 - 14 inch (18-34 cm) flap of skin that completely circles its head. It opens this brightly-colored frill to frighten enemies. Adults are over 8 inches (20 cm) long. These climbing lizards live in trees in humid forests and eat cicadas, ants, spiders and smaller lizards. It can run quadrupedally and bipedally, with the front legs off the ground. Adult females lay 8 to 14 eggs per clutch in Spring and Summer. Classification: Class Reptilia, Order: Squamata, Family: Agamidae, Genus Chlamydosaurus, Species kingii (named by Gray in 1825).

CHORDATE

Chordates are animals that have a notochord and gill clefts at some point in their life. They have a hollow nerve cord that ends in a brain. Chordates include the vertebrates, cephalochordates (e.g. amphioxus), and urochordates (e.g. sea squirts).
pupa

CHRYSALIS

The chrysalis is the pupa of a butterfly.


CINCHONA TREE

The cinchona tree is a tropical tree that is the primary source of the anit-malarial drug quinine. Quinine is found in the bark of the cinchona tree. Quinine is a chemical that cures malaria, a deadly tropical disease carried by mosquitoes. There are many species of cinchona; they range from about 15 to 20 meters tall. The cinchona tree is native to rainforests of the eastern slope of the Amazonian Andes of South America, where it is called the "fever tree." Classification: Family Rubiaceae, Genus Cinchona, Species C. officinalis, C. ledgeriana, C. uccirubra, C. calisaya, and others.

CLADE

A clade is a group of all the organisms that share a particular common ancestor (and therefore have similar features). The members of a clade are related to each other

CLADISTICS

Cladistics is a method of classifying organisms based on common ancestry and the branching of the evolutionary family tree. Organisms that share common ancestors (and therefore have similar features) are grouped into taxonomic groups called clades. Cladistics can also be used to predict properties of yet-to-be discovered organisms.

CLADOGRAM

Cladograms are branching diagrams that depict species divergence from common ancestors. They show the distribution and origins of shared characteristics. Cladograms are testable hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships.

CLASS

In classification, a class is a group of related or similar organisms. A class contains one or more orders. A group of similar classes forms a phylum.

CLASSIFICATION

The classification of organisms helps in the their study. Cladistics is a method based on common ancestry; the Linnean system is based on a simple hierarchical structure.

CLAW

Many dinosaurs were armed with claws on front and/or rear feet. These claws varied widely in length, shape, placement, and function (defense and/or offense). When alive, claws were sheathed in a horny, keratinous material much like our fingernails, making the claw even bigger, longer and sharper.


CLIMATE

The climate of an area is its local weather conditions, like temperature, precipitation (rain fall, snow, etc), humidity, sunshine, cloudiness, wind, air pressure, and other conditions. Rainforest are very rainy area with high humidity. Tropical ainforests get over 80 inches (2 m) of rain each year. This is about 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) of rain each week. The temperature in a rainforest never freezes and never gets very hot. The range of temperature in a tropical rainforest is usually between 75° F and 80° F (24-27° C).

CLOUD FOREST

A cloud forest is a rainforest that is on a mountainside. It is usually misty and cloudy.
Butterfly head

CLUB

A club is the thickened end of a butterfly's antenna.


COATI

(pronounced ko-WAH-ti) Coati (also called coatimundi) are long-nosed, long-tailed mammals from the Americas.


COCKATOO

Cockatoos are birds with a large, feathery crest and a hooked bill.

COCOON

A cocoon is a protective covering, made of silk, which protects a moth pupa (and some other insects). The cocoon is spun from the abdomen of the larva (caterpillar) before it pupates.

COLD BLOODED

Cold blooded (or ectothermic) animals rely upon the temperature and their behavior (like sunning themselves) to regulate their body temperature. Snakes and lizards are ectothermic.

COMMENSALISM

Commensalism is a situation in which two organisms are associated in a relationship in which one benefits from the relationship and the other is not affected much. The two animals are called commensals. The shark and the pilot fish (and remora) are commensals - the pilot fish benefits much more than the shark. Another example is bromeliads (plants living on trees in rainforests) and frogs; the frogs get shelter and water from the bromeliad but the bromeliad is unaffected. Commensalism is a type of symbiosis.

COMMUNITY

A community is a groups of species (different types of plants and animals) that live in an area. These organisms interact and influence each others survival.


COMPLETE METAMORPHOSIS

Complete metamorphosis is the complete reorganization of the tissues of an animal during its life cycle from larva to adult, usually involving the addition of legs and wings. The larval stage of butterflies and moths (the caterpillar) metamorphoses into a winged, flying adult (the adult butterfly or moth).
Butterfly head

COMPOUND EYE

Insects (like butterflies and moths) have compound eyes. These eyes are made up of many hexagonal lens/corneas which focus light from each part of the insect's field of view onto a rhabdome (the equivalent of our retina). An optic nerve then carries this information to the insect's brain. They see very differently from us; they can see ultraviolet rays (which are invisible to us).


CONDENSATION

Condensation is the process in which a vapor (gas) is cooled to the liquid phase. Clouds are formed by the condensation of atmospheric water vapor.


CONIFER

Conifers are evergreen trees and shrubs that bear naked seeds in cones. Examples of conifers include pine, fir, and spruce trees.

CONSERVATION

Conservation is the wise use of natural resources (plants, animals, minerals, water, etc.) so that they are not damaged and will be in good condition in the future.
Food chain
CONSUMER

A consumer is a living thing that eats other living things to survive. It cannot make its own food (unlike most plants, which are producers). Primary consumers eat producers, secondary consumers eat primary consumers, and so on. There are always many more primary consumers than secondary consumers, etc.

CONTINENTAL DRIFT

Continental drift is the movement of the Earth's continents. The land masses are hunks of Earth's crust that float on the molten core.

CONVERGENT EVOLUTION

Convergent evolution (convergence) is when a trait develops independently in two or more groups of organisms. An example of convergence is the wings of Pterodactyls and bats.

COPPICE SHOOT

A coppice shoot (also called a epicormic shoot, sap shoot, water shoot, or water sprout) is a shoot (new growth) that arises from an adventitious or dormant bud on a branch or a stem of a plant (usually near the base of the plant). This fast-growing shoot often starts to grow when part of a forest canopy is removed or thinned (allowing light in).

COPPICE STAND

A coppice stand is an area of coppice shoots.

CORPSE FLOWER

The "corpse flower" is the world's largest flower. This giant bloom is found in rainforests of Indonesia. It's scientific name is Rafflesia arnoldi. Rafflesia gives off a putrid smell that reminds people of rotting meat (this odor attracts its pollenators, beetles and flies), hence its nickname. Rafflesia's enormous flower is about 3 feet (1 m) across and weighs about 20 pounds (9 kilograms). The flower takes about a year to develop, then it blooms for about a week before dying. The flower has five wide orange petals (with pale dots) surrounding a spiked cup. Rafflesia has no stem, no roots, and no leaves. The flower is supported by fungus-like tissue that lives in another plant - the Tetrastigma vine.
Nutria

COYPU
.

Coypus (also called nutrias) are semi-aquatic rodents that are originally from South America
pupa

CREMASTER

A cremaster is a support hook (or a cluster of small hooks) at the abdominal (hind) end of a pupa.


CREPUSCULAR

Crepuscular animals are most active during the dawn and dusk (compare with diurnal and nocturnal). Many wild cats are crepuscular.


CRESTED OROPENDOLA

The crested oropendola is a tropical black bird that builds long, pendulous nests.

CROCHETS

Crochets are hook-like spines are the end of the prolegs of caterpillars.


CROCODILIAN

Crocodilians are the order of archosaurs that includes alligators, crocodiles, gavials, etc. They evolved during the late Triassic period, and are a type of reptile.


CUCKOO

Cuckoos are birds whose call sounds like its name. Many cuckoos live in rainforest canopies throughout the world.

CUTICLE

The cuticle is the outer, non-cellular layer of an insects chitinous exoskeleton.

CYCAD

Cycads are primitive seed plants that dominated the Jurassic period. They are palm-like trees that live in warm climates. These gymnosperms have long, divided leaves and produce large cones. Only a few species of Cycads still exist today.


CYDNO LONGWING

Heliconius cydno, also called the Cydno Longwing, is a butterfly found in tropical rainforests of Central and South America. The host plant is passiflora (passion vine). Classification Family Nymphalidae, Subfamily Heliconiinae (Heliconians, Fritillaries), Genus Heliconius (Longwings), Species H. cydno.

Zoom Rainforests
Rainforest Glossary
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Click on an underlined word for more information on that subject.
If the rainforest term you are looking for is not in the dictionary, please e-mail us.

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