Panama And Its Environment Biology Essay

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Panama has a variety of biomes, plants and animals including over 182 types of amphibians, 9,915 types of plants, 218 types of mammals, 302 types of birds including 100 different types of bats alone, and 242 different types of reptiles, 93 of them being frogs alone. In this report we hope to describe the variety of biomes, the location of the biomes, its climate, plants and animals within the biomes, and the problems and issues of concern.

We'll start first about talking about the different biomes. The biomes of panama are as follows: tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests, and of course the tropical rainforest. The tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests are located in a band in the southeastern coast of Panama. Those areas get almost no rain and resemble a desert. They are home to a wide range of species that including the three toed sloth, the Panamanian gold tree frog, which is native to Panama and lives in the dry and wet forests, the northern tamanduas, which is a type of anteater that eats bees, termites, and ants. They can eat up to 9,000 ants a day. The dry forests are is home to many endemic migrating animals that find refuge in these forests. This area is sandy and the trees have adapted to live in the sandy conditions. They have created a unique defensive system. They have grown spikes that keep animals from stealing any moisture.

Talking more on the Panamanian gold tree frog, the frogs are active during the day, are bright yellow in color two-three inches long, and live for up to 9 years. They are thought to be good luck. There bright yellow skin acts as a warning for predators because its skin has a toxic compound that will kill anything that eats it. They have a wide range of calls and frequencies but have no ears and can't hear. The way that they hear is a flap of skin vibrates when sound waves hit them in their lungs. They also serve as a cultural symbol. To Panamanians, the tree frog is as respected as we respect the bald eagle but select few Panamanians have actually seen this frog in the wild.

During the wet season, the golden frog has its mating season. They mate from November to January. The male frogs strangely attract females by waving (semaphore) with their front hands. Females are capable of laying 200-600 eggs at a time. When it is not mating season the female frogs migrate deeper into the forest and the males stay where they wait for the females to return. The frogs have a wide range of predator even though its skin is poisonous including: birds, snakes, and fish, and recently a disease known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis or BD is the main killer of the frogs and has killed over eighty percent in just ten years, and has spread to many other countries. The frogs are currently listed as critically endangered.

Many types of three toed sloths live in panama. The brown-throated sloth lives in the dry forests of Panama. They are herbivores that eat leaves, which is responsible for their reputation as slow-moving because leaves provide almost no energy. They have an abnormal body temperature of most warm-blooded animals of eighty eight degrees. The sloths are also known for their ability to resist infections and recover infections quickly.

The tropical rain forests of panama are located in the middle to coastal panama in the west and east. The climate in this area is extremely wet and gets 2,500 to 5,000 millimeters of rain each year. Some of the animals include birds: the Tacaruna Tapaculo, the Pierre bush tanager, the Pierre warbler, the Tacaruna quail-dove, the saffron-headed parrot, the tee runner, the golden-headed quetzals and the violet-capped hummingbirds. The rain forest is also home to the national bird of panama, the harpy eagle. It a unique bird because it has a special ability to navigate the tough terrain of the Panamanian rain forest. With its seven foot wingspan, the harpy eagle is one of the most powerful eagles in the world. It prey, any animal caught out in the open. It easily grabs hold of its victim with its five inch claws. The eagles name means, "A ferocious winged creature with sharp claws, a women's face, and a vulture's body." Males weigh on average 18.4 pounds and females weigh fourteen pounds. Their bodies can be anywhere from thirty-six to forty inches long. They are a very dull black on the top of their body and a white to grayish color on their bellies. On the top of their heads are 2 rows of gray feathers that stick up when it is alert or sensing danger. The brown eyes help them judge distance and they have a large parrot shaped bill. They can exceed speeds of 50 mph and prey on large animals like monkeys. This species is also on the endangered species list.

The saffron-headed parrot is a very colorful bird and is relatively small compared to other parrots. Its length is about 24 centimeters from head to tail and weighs in at 3.6 ounces. Most of their body is green but they have a yellow head and throat and they have some red feathers where the wing meets the body. They also have blue feathers on the tips of their wings. The babies are colored different at birth but molt and become like their parents. They are a very quiet and shy bird and are not commonly found in captivity. They eat a wide range of fruit and nuts and occasionally eat select plants. There is about 10,000 estimated left in the wild due to deforestation and the pet trade and is currently on the near threatened list.

The rain forest also is home to many reptiles and amphibians. The blue poison dart frog, the green arrow frog, the hyla tree frog, the red eyed tree frog , and the red poison dart frog are just a few of the many types of frogs. There are many reptiles such as: the eyelash viper, several kinds of boas, many kinds of iguanas, and the anole.

The blue poison dart frog is three to four centimeters log and weighs only three grams. On the surface of its skin are glands that secrete enough poison to kill ten people. They live on the forest floor up to 300 meters in the trees. The usually live on average four to six years. They eat ants, flies, beetles, maggots, spiders, and termites. The tadpoles usually live three or four months before turning into adults and feed off unfertilized eggs provided by their mother. Deforestation and the pet trade has caused this frog to be endangered the most of the frogs.

The eyelash viper can be a bright yellow, green, red, or brown pit viper. They have a venomous bite and can range anywhere from 18 to 30 inches long. They have a triangular head and have a better sense of sight then most snakes. They have large fangs located on the top of their mouth. They got their name from a set of scales on the tops of their eyes that resemble eyelashes. They are really sensitive to heat and are nocturnal. They eat a wide range of animals including small mammals, lizards, frogs, and birds. With their quick strike, they can even catch a bird in flight. Foxes, badgers, hedgehogs, other snakes, and birds prey on these snakes.

The mammals in the rain forest include: the golden lion, the mountain gorilla, the ocelots, the margays, and jaguars. There are many types of monkeys including the spider monkey and the squirrel monkey. The mountain gorilla is one of the few animals that has actually had increasing numbers in the past few years. This animal had been on the verge of being extinct but they have regrown in population to 600 to 640 alive in the wild today. The mountain gorillas live in large groups and live in altitudes anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level. The gorillas have abnormally died when taken into zoos, so very few exist in captivity. They are vegetarians and have a home territory of fifteen square miles. They eat bamboo, celery, leaves, roots, and bark. They are very gentle and smart animals. Poaching is the biggest threat to gorillas and are very weak against human diseases. Many conservation movement shave been made to help protect these creatures and so far has been working.

Many fish in the rain forest include: piranhas, angelfish, the neon tetras, the discus and many types of catfish are all found here. None is more famous then the piranha. They can grow to be six to eight inches long. They have relatively big teeth compared to their small mouth. They are very sleek and fast. There are stories of people having to sacrifice a cow just to distract the piranhas so they could cross the river. Their groups can be anywhere from twenty to fifty. Most piranhas are not dangerous though. Only the red-bellied piranhas pose a threat to other animals. Really the only threat to piranhas is other piranhas, polluted water, the food market, and the pet trade. The piranha population is still growing though. The female can lay 700 to 4,000 eggs at a time. The male is in charge of guarding the nest. After two or three days the eggs hatch, these are called the frye.