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The Tropical Rainforest of the Biodôme

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Tamarin pinché (Saguinus oedipus).
Photo: Biodôme de Montréal
Cotton-top Tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) in the Tropical Rainforest at the Biodôme

If the weather is a popular topic in Montreal, it so happens that only a few subway stations away from downtown, the temperature of the rainforest inside the Biodôme is constant all year round. It ranges from 25 to 28°C during the day to 21 or 22°C at night with a relative humidity of at least 70-80%. The warm, humid air and lush tropical vegetation offer a guaranteed change of scenery for much less than a trip down south!

As soon as you enter this ecosystem, you are mesmerized by the beauty of the place. In fact, the Montréal Biodôme is not a zoo. It is one of the rare places in the world to host a wide variety of plants and animals, both terrestrial and aquatic, all under one roof. And the Biodôme’s ecosystem approach makes it easier to grasp the interrelationships between the environment and the organisms as well as between the organisms themselves.

For example, on a visit with family or friends, you can spot a "bouquet" of parrots perched in the branches, or a caiman basking at the water's edge, or a group of capybaras in a pond among the striped tiger catfish, red-tailed catfish, pacus and black-finned brycons.

By taking the footbridge that leads to the mezzanine, you will discover a whole new point of view—a breathtaking panorama of the treetops. Those with a sharp eye might catch a glimpse of the two-fingered sloth through the foliage of this verdant forest of the Biodôme. Want to try you luck?

Exotic animals and plants at the Biodôme

Well sheltered from the elements inside the Montréal Biodôme and its tropical forest ecosystem, the landscape conjures a valley of limestone rocks carved out by a river thousands of years ago. Today, a simple stream flows down to a marsh. Hundreds of fish, including piranhas, poison dart frogs that are tiny and colourful, and reptiles such as anaconda and caiman can be seen throughout the different habitats. A little further on, on one side of the valley, a cave is home to bats that can be observed at leisure. And everywhere in this fascinating forest live several tropical mammals and dozens of birds, including callistas, ibis and macaws. A pure delight for children on a family or school outing to the Biodôme!

The exotic vegetation is breathtakingly diverse: strangler fig trees, epiphytes that turn tree branches into gardens, palm trees in the undergrowth and creepers in search of sunlight. Spectacular and exotic!

The challenge of deforestation explained at the Biodôme

Tropical rainforests contain extraordinary biological riches yet are highly vulnerable. The ecosystem of the Biodôme Rainforest is therefore meant to be a symbol, a wake-up call of sorts, for the survival of these magnificent but fragile forests threatened, in particular, by deforestation.

The tropical rainforests of America, Africa and Asia occupy only 6% of the Earth's land surface. However, they are home to more than half, if not two-thirds, of known plant and animal species. Yet their surface area is shrinking steadily, and at quite an alarming rate.

We can all play a role in protecting this ecosystem. The Biodôme's scientific educators are out on the trails, ready to answer visitors' questions on the matter.

Conservation at the Montréal Biodôme

Behind the walls of the Biodôme, the teams have acquired an expertise that allows them, along with various collaborators, to become actively involved in the conservation of certain species. Among other things, they are involved in a conservation program on the golden lion tamarin (a primate) and the golden Panama frog, as well as in a study of the biodiversity of the Martinique robber frog.

A few facts and figures

  • The rainforest ecosystem occupies an area of 2,600 sq. m.
  • With its hundreds of plants and animals, it is the largest ecosystem in the Montréal Biodôme.
  • To reproduce as closely as possible the natural environment of this ecosystem, artificial lighting makes it possible to adjust the length of the day and the intensity of light in order to mimic that of the rainforest throughout the year.

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