giant tree falls, opening up a giant hole in the canopy. This starts a new cycle of life in the rainforest, where seeds become seedlings and struggle to grow into trees.
The process started long before the adult tree died. Hundreds of species of trees have been dispersing their seeds around the forest.
If the seeds are lucky enough to not get eaten by an Agouti or Paca, they germinate (like hatching) and grow into small seedlings. This begins the greatest struggle for survival in the rainforest.
HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of tiny seedlings try to find patches of light, but often have to survive in the dark understory of the forest. They are six inches tall. Some die from lack of light.
TENS of THOUSANDS grow slowly until they find a tiny patch of light that gives them enough energy to grow a bit faster. They are twelve inches tall.
A White-lipped Peccary comes along and eats half of them. A THOUSAND survivors grow and are two feet tall.
A branch falls and kills some more. The last HUNDRED survivors are three feet tall.
A tapir eats most of the young trees. The only TEN survivors grow to five feet tall. Now we call them "saplings."
The saplings all start to grow rapidly in the sunlight. Some grow VERY fast, but not very strong. Others grow very strong, but not very fast. One or two grow all the way to the canopy and close off the light gap. They have made it. The ones that didn't make it have to wait in the shade again.
The circled part of the picture is where a treefall gap has ocurred. Smaller trees within the gap are growing to take the place in the canopy
Below is a video showing "A Day in the Life of a Seedling."