Filling the gap

In a South American rainforest, David Attenborough climbs on the trunk of a fallen kapok tree. With the death of this forest giant, a race has begun. Without its death saplings down on the forest floor would have died, but now they can race for the light where there is a gap in the canopy. First to grow are shrubs that specialise on open ground like this. They are quick to flower and spread their seeds. But in a few years they will be outgrown by the tree saplings. Soon some of the saplings will flag. Only a few will reach the canopy where they will block out the light and return the ground to gloom.

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