In our view, it is impossible to walk through the jungle without running into any of the representatives of the wild fauna at every step: monkeys, snakes, spiders, birds, and even predatory animals. In fact, the tropical forest is truly striking in the outward poverty of the animal world. Naturalists say that you can wander in it all day and meet only some bird or butterfly.
This, of course, does not mean that there are no animals in the forest: in fact, there are a great many of them, but they prudently avoid humans, and even if you wish, it is not easy to meet them.
It is also sometimes thought that the animals in the jungle are in a situation of constant "war" with each other. As a rule, non-specialists, confused by the sensational tales of the press and cinema, imagine the relationship of wild animals in the "green hell" of the jungle as a bloodthirsty struggle of all against all. Films were repeatedly shown in which, for example, one could see the fight of a Bengal tiger with a python, and immediately after that, a python with a crocodile.
Under natural conditions, this never happens. And what is the point of one of these animals to destroy the other? None of them affects the vital interests of the other.
Many consider these dense impenetrable thickets to have appeared on their own a long time ago and continue to expand their territories. However, the jungle is formed, as a rule, on abandoned arable lands, cutting areas and burnt areas, that is, they are the result of human activity. The first to appear are tall grasses and shrubs, tied with numerous lianas, later fast-growing trees of soft tree species grow.
Despite the lush vegetation, the quality of the soil in the jungle leaves much to be desired. Rapid decay caused by bacteria prevents the accumulation of the humus layer. The concentration of iron and aluminum oxides due to laterization of the soil (the process of reducing the silica content in the soil with a simultaneous increase in iron and aluminum oxides) stains the soil bright red and sometimes forms mineral deposits (for example, bauxite). On young formations, especially of volcanic origin, soils can be quite fertile.
The territory of the jungle is being developed everywhere for economic needs, and therefore it is constantly decreasing. The richness of flora and fauna in comparison with the past diversity has noticeably decreased.
In the Amazonian jungle there are unusual patches of forest – Devil's Gardens, which grow only one type of tree (Duroia hirsuta) and no other. The name comes from the belief of local residents, who believe that the evil forest spirit Chulyachaki lives in these places.
Previously it was believed that the formation of "gardens" is associated with the allelopathic effect of Duroia hirsuta on other plant species. However, in 2005, biologists from Stanford University found that the appearance of "gardens" is due to the symbiosis of Duroia hirsuta trees with ants.
Worker ants of the species Myrmelachista schumanni (or "lemon ants") have shown to kill green shoots of species other than Duroia hirsuta by injecting formic acid into their leaves as a herbicide, as experiments with planting rival plants in Devil's Gardens have shown. In this way, the ants allow their favorite trees to grow freely without competition. Ants use the hollow stems of Duroia hirsuta to build nests.
Estimates have shown that the area of "gardens" is increasing by about 0,7% per year. The number of working ants in large colonies occupying one "garden" reaches 3000 000. The largest known "Devil's Garden", with 328 trees, is estimated by biologists to be about 800 years old.
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