A plea for its protection
Although the tropical rainforests of the Americas, Africa and Asia account for only 7% of the world's surface area, they are home to over half, and perhaps even two-thirds, of all known animal and plant species. Unfortunately, these forests are constantly shrinking, at alarming speed.
The Tropical Rainforest at the Biodôme, a reproduction of a tropical rainforest in South America, awakens visitors to the extraordinary biological diversity of these ecosystems and to their terrible vulnerability. The Biodôme's Tropical Rainforest, measuring 2,600 m² and populated by thousands of plants and animals, is our largest ecosystem.
With its large diversity of terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals this ecosystem offers a unique opportunity to study the relationships between physical environmental factors and living organisms, as well as between organisms themselves. This ecosystem has made it possible to study important ecological processes that are generally difficult to isolate in natural environments, such as changes in the physical and chemical properties of the soil, the leaf phosphorus retranslocation of some tree species, the role of soil microorganisms, the foraging activity of pollen and nectar eating bats, and the growth of a free population of giant toads.
The landscape evokes a valley carved out by a river, now reduced to a stream. The water flows from a flooded area down to a marsh below. There is a cave on one side of the valley.
In the Biodôme's Tropical Rainforest, the air is hot all year long, with temperatures ranging from 25 to 28°C during the day and 21 to 22°C at night. The relative humidity of at least 70% actually corresponds to the driest time of year in a tropical climate. Artificial lighting ensures that the ecosystem receives the same amount of daylight as it would in Costa Rica.
You will cross through various growth stages in the Tropical Rainforest, each with the appropriate flora and fauna. In the young secondary forest, the light easily penetrates through to the ground, while in the mature primary forest, the dense leafy canopy blocks most of the sunshine.
The diversity of plant life is staggering: trees with buttresses and stilt roots, strangler figs that choke the trees they sprout on, epiphytes that transform tree branches into gardens, climbing herbaceous plants and lianas stretching up to the sun, and palm trees populating the undergrowth.
The Tropical Rainforest is the most densely populated of the Biodôme's ecosystems, home to hundreds of fish, including the common piranha; amphibians, such as poison arrow frogs; reptiles, including the anaconda and yacare caiman; hundreds of birds, from tanagers and spoonbills to parrots; and mammals such as the capybara, the golden lion tamarin, the two-toed sloth and four species of bats. A number of species here are protected by conservation programs, including the hyacinth macaw (parrot) and the golden lion tamarin (monkey).