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Arboreal Definition

The word arboreal originates from a Latin word, which means like trees. Thus, it is associated with the trees and the words related to it are arborary, arborous and others.

Arboreal locomotion occurs when the organism residing in the trees show movement such as jumping, swinging and walking and is thus termed arboreal locomotion. As they reside on trees, their body has been adapted in that way, such as their tail, claws or their legs.

Arboreal Animals

Animals which reside on trees are called as arboreal animals, their whole life they lodge on the trees where all their daily activities are carried out such as hunting, mating, sleeping as well as leisure. Their offspring also reside on the trees however as they are very small, these juvenile are most susceptible to tumble down.

Parrots, cat, squirrel, lizards, insects, monkeys, chameleon, koalas, and sloths are the example of arboreal animals, however there are other animals who stay on land but can climb trees such as goats and leopards, where leopards get on the tree so that their prey cannot be taken by other animals.

These arboreal animals form the forest ecosystem and will be seen in such ecosystem, and more specifically in the tropical forests. Arboreal animals reside on trees to protect themselves and their family from scavengers on the land, however there are chances of them tumbling down.

Thus they have acquired certain adaptations such as they make their nests or their habitat at the peak of the trees and those animals which are huge in size will reside in the middle portion of the tress and will hide in the branches and leaves when they feel they could be hunted.

Challenges for Arboreal Animals and Adaptations

There are various problems which could be faced by the arboreal animals such as falling down which results in mishap. Other challenges are looking for food and storing them as well and protection and various daily activities they carry out.

Other problems could be inappropriate weather conditions resulting in loss of habitat as the branches fall of and balancing, walking on tiny branches and other obstacles are some of the issue. Although these problems are overcome as they have stayed on trees for a long duration, thus adapting to it.

i. Gravitational Balance

Center of gravity is responsible for the movement in animals, thus resulting in no friction. When cow walks it does not use both the legs at the same time it uses alternate legs, thus, the center of gravity is from side to side. Other examples of animals with excellent center of gravity are dogs, giraffe, buffalo and elephants.

However, the opposite is that of arboreal animals, i.e., they have low center of gravity which is due to small length of legs. Thus, they can maintain their balance and avoid tumbling down from tress due to center of gravity being low.

ii. Membranes for Gliding

Trees might have spaces between, thus arboreal animals have made gliding adaptations which is due to patagia, which is a membrane allowing sliding found between the legs. As it is flexible, they can jump from one branch to the other and will not fall down but glide in such scenario. These membrane contract and expand but does not possess weight on them.

In animals such as flying frogs, snakes, squirrels, mice and geckos possess this membrane as well, where they glide but not fly. Smallest gliding animal is the flying mouse and they possess the membrane between their knees and their elbows. While gliding it requires its tail and is a rodent.

iii. Body Structure

As arboreal animals spend their whole life on their tree, they have acquired some adaptation such as the gliding membrane, swinging and brachiation. Brachiation is the ability of the arboreal animals to shift from one branch to the other which is seen in monkeys, apes, lemur and other primates.

Other adaptations are long arms which helps them to swing and move from branches to branches and the gaps present between the trees. 35miles/hour is the monkey’s speed. The wrist of arboreal animal can move freely which helps to catch hold off the branches while moving and swinging.

Arboreal animals have prehensile tail and the most classic example are the monkeys, where tail provides support, helps in jumping, swinging, moving, snatching. To prevent from tumbling down and getting bruised, these animals have grip in their feet so that they can hold the branches very firmly and their fingers lack hair thus providing a grip when they hold branches.

Example are squirrel which have easily rotatable ankles, thus can move both the sides very quickly. Other adaptations are shorter feet, thumb, spine, nails and long fingers and forelimb. Some arboreal animal have adhesive feet and its example are tree frogs and salamander.

Arboreal animals are usually small which has various pros like low center of gravity, less weight and more stability. The exception are orangutans which are around 300 pounds in weight and reside in tropical forest.

Arboreal Locomotion

Arboreal locomotion occurs when the organism residing in the trees show movement such as jumping, swinging and walking and is thus termed arboreal locomotion. As they reside on trees, their body has been adapted in that way, such as their tail, claws or their legs.

The adaptations are long arms which helps them to swing and move from branches to branches and the gaps present between the trees. Many times, when they fight and play, they don’t tumble because of the adaptations made by the body and their locomotion which prevents from falling when they have skipped a branch and are about to fall.

The type of locomotion varies from animals to animals such as concertina locomotion is seen in snakes.

Arboreal Examples

The examples of Arboreal animals residing in the tropical, subtropical area are:

a) Orangutan: They are found at the peak of trees and don’t come down very often. Their feet and hands are not considered separate as they both can perform the same functions like swinging, climbing, snatching and etc.

b) Tree Kangaroo: They reside in the New Guinea tropical rainforest and are actual arboreal staying on trees. Tree kangaroo also reside on the peak and have human speed when on the land. The features of kangaroo are strong forelimbs and legs. Their jump is quite excellent as they possess the ability to jump 30 feet down from one tree to the other.

c) Sunda Flying Lemur: Lemur are agile during night, thus sleep in day at the top or in the holes of the tree and requires all its four leg to obtain a hold on the tree’s branches. To climb they using hoping where they spread their legs and jump.

Sunda colugo and Malayan colugo are the other names of the lemur. It does not stay on the ground and has gliding membrane which is present from the neck to the toes, thus making gliding very smooth.

Arboreal Citations

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