The Uncharted Jungles of Kru'll: Part 2 of 5

The Emergent Layer

The top layer of the jungle is the emergent layer and only the very tallest trees breaking through the canopy earn their place there. The emergent layer is breezy, wet, and lacking in shelter. It can also be extremely hot, and is a rather inhospitable place. It doesn’t provide a suitable habitat for many plant or animal species.

Here, trees as tall as 160 to 200 feet dominate the skyline. Foliage is often sparse on tree trunks, but spreads wide as the trees compete to embrace the unobstructed ray's of the sun. Small, waxy leaves help trees in the emergent layer retain water during long droughts or dry seasons. Lightweight seeds are carried away from the parent plant by strong winds. Animals often maneuver through the emergent layer’s unstable topmost branches by flying or gliding. Animals that can’t fly or glide are usually quite small—they need to be light enough to be supported by the tree’s slender uppermost layers.

The animals living in the emergent layer include birds, bats, gliders, and butterflies. Large raptors, such as flare-tailed hawks and banshee eagles, are among some of its top predators. A wide variety of pygmy gliders, small rodents that get their name from the way flaps of skin between their legs allow them to glide from branch to branch, also populate the emergent layer. Bats are the most diverse mammal species and they regularly fly throughout the emergent, canopy, and understory layers. They are important pollinators that mainly feed on juice from fruit, but will also chew flowers for their nectar. Some smaller monkeys are able to enter the emergent layer, but rarely remain there long. In addition, the bright blue wings of swarms of moon-kissed butterflies, settling and flying over the emergent layer, create the visual illusion of an animate ocean above, never seen by those below the canopy.

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