The Uncharted Jungles of Kru'll: Part 5 of 5
Forest Floor Layer
The forest floor is the darkest of all jungle layers, making it extremely difficult for plants to grow without some form of adaptation. Leaves, dropping, and carcasses that fall to the forest floor decay quickly. It is also the quietest and deadliest place to find yourself in the jungle, especially if one is lost.
Decomposers, such as termites, slugs, arthropods, worms, and fungi, thrive on the forest floor. When the organic matter falls from above, these organisms break down the decaying material into nutrients. The shallow roots of jungle trees, opting to spread out over a wide area instead of growing deeper into the soil, absorb these nutrients. Dozens of predators consume the decomposers along a food chain that tapers upwards until there are only a few fearfully-made apex predators at the top.
Animals such as wild pigs, armadillos, and anteaters forage in the decomposing brush for these tasty insects, roots and tubers. Even larger predators, such as jagoons, skulk in the darkness or pounce from the understory to surprise their prey. Though not all large beasts in the jungle are predatory. In fact, there are more large beasts of the herbivore and omnivore persuasion than strict carnivores; a few of which are relatively untouched due to their threatening size, or defenses, to apex predators that have a plethora of easier options. Smaller rodents, such as rats and pookaburrows, hide from predators beneath the shallow roots of the larger trees that dominate the canopy and emergent layer.
Occasionally rivers can be found running through the jungle and create unusual freshwater habitats on the forest floor. Teaming with a wide variety of aquatic and semi-aquatic life, these "life-lines" of fresh water and nutrients, cut channels through the jungle and provide the best opportunities for sunlight to reach down to the ground level unobstructed; creating an unique ecosystem along the banks when it occurs in both the flora and fauna. While many animals treat these water supplies as peaceful ground for acquiring water, the real threats can come unexpectedly from the river themselves, in the form of ambush predators such as the spearhead crocodiles or terrifyingly long cottonmouth anacondas.