2. Bates, Marston. 1952. “The Rain Forest”. In, Where winter never comes; a study of man and nature in the Tropics. New York, Scribner.

Questions to consider:

1. Find Tela on Google Earth or a map.  Which of the three tropical climographs that you completed would be most similar to Tela's?
Tela is a coastal city that is ~45 miles due west of La Ceiba.  Because it shares the same elevation, latitude and coastal location as La Ceiba, Tela's climograph would be most similar to La Ceiba's.

2.  Although the chapter is based on a location in Colombia, Bates description is appropriate for rain forests in Central America.

3. Look at the "Rain Forest" map and note that rain forests are found along Central America's coast strips.  This region is also called the Central American littoral.

4. Why does Bates feel that "jungle" is an inappropriate synonym for the tropical rain forest?
Jungle is a term that often implies a thick mass of vegetation that is impassable for travelers.   In contrast, tropical rain forests often have open forest floors that are easy to walk through.  This is because multiple layers of forest canopies shield sunlight from the forest floor and limit growth of plants in that zone. 

5. Why does he compare the forest to a cathedral?
A defining architectural characteristic of a cathedral is a high vaulted ceiling.  A defining characteristic of a tropical rain forest is its tall trees in which the lowest branches sprout from the long trunk high above the forest floor (See map on p. 210).  Interlocking branches of the various tree crowns form a natural cathedral ceiling. 

6. On what grounds base his claim that few diseases are "associated with the tropical forest"?  Why is it that malaria is often caught in the tropical forest?
Because the mosquitoes that carry diseases like Yellow Fever and Malaria travel only short distances and because these diseases require human hosts, Bates concludes that  a rain forest absent of humans would be relatively disease-free.  Malaria epidemics occur in regions of tropical rain forests where humans have clustered into settlements and created niches that have put them into contact with mosquitoes and provided hosts for pathogens like Yellow Fever and Malaria. 

7. How do rains in the tropical rain forest differ from what we've been getting recently in California?
Tropical rain forest rains are torrential.  Large quantities of water (several inches) fall in a short period of time.  In much of California our rains are merely sprinkles.  In Chico we consider a one inch of rain in a 12-hour period a gully washer.

8. What does Bates mean when he says that the rain forest and coral reefs "represent the maximum development of life"?
The rain forest and coral reef support the highest density (populations of organisms/area) of biological organisms in the world.  They also support the highest density of diversity (number of different species/area).

9. With regard to light, how is a rain forest like the sea? Both the sea floor and forest floor are dark places shielded from sunlight. In which zone does most photosynthesis occur? Sea surface, shallow water or forest canopy.

10. What does Bates mean by "giantism"?  How does it explain bamboo, tall trees, and the vine habit?
Plant survival in a tropical rain forest depends on individual plant species' adaptations that allow them access to sunlight.  Giantism is one such adaptation.  It allows a giant grass species like bamboo to ascend above the forest floor and harvest sunlight.  Trees grow extremely long trunks and only put out branches high above the floor to harvest sunlight (See map on p. 201 to get some idea of how tall trees are.).  The vine habit is another adaptation in which plants grow in such a way that they climb the trunks of the tall trees so that their leaves are able to harvest sunlight.  Often the original tree becomes a dead hardwood prop that merely supports the climbing vine.  A common name for such vine species is "Strangler Fig".       

11. How is the prehensile tail of rain forest mammals a parallel of plant giantism in the rain forest?
The prehensile tail of rain forest mammals is an adaptation that allows them to climb and live most of their lives in the forest canopy.  The tail is strong and can curl and grip.

12. How is the forest floor zone like a "cork lined room" compared to the air just above the canopy?
Cork insulates a room from changing atmospheric conditions.  The rain forest floor is insulated by the great mass of forest canopies above it so that it is protected from temperature changes and winds.

13. In which forest zone did the mosquitoes live?
They lived in the forest canopy where humidity was lower, breezes were frequent and temperatures spiked each day.  Human settlements in the rain forest involve forest clearance.  That brings these atmospheric conditions of the forest canopy to the forest floor...and the disease-carrying mosquitoes follow. 

14. Note how diversity of mosquitoes influenced frequency of biting.

15. What does Bates mean by niches?  Niches are micro-environments (For example, the small pool of water that collects at the base of a bromeliad leaf.) which provide specialized habitats for many different biological organisms. How is it related to diversity and independence? The tropical rain forest contains a multitude of niches which support the great diversity of biological organisms and allow these organisms to survive in relative independence from other organisms.

16. How is a bromeliad a niche? Bromeliads are plants that often grow as epiphytes in tropical forests.  They root themselves to tree branches and create micro-environments that are very different from a simple tree branch.  They collect water and tree litter that falls from above.  This mix of decaying vegetative matter and water is a micro-habitat or niche for other biological organisms. 

17. Bates obviously wrote before deforestation was a problem.  However, his point is correct.  The tropical rain forest has little economic value.  The economic motivation that has led to so much of it being cleared is its value as cleared land for agriculture, not for the economic value of the diverse organisms that live in the forest.

18. Note the poor soils of the forest and their short-term value to farmers and how farmers have adapted an agricultural system to the limits of the rain forest.

19. I hope you get to chance to visit a tropical rain forest.  You might agree with Bates' final paragraph.