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Extinction most likely for rare trees in the Amazon rainforest
Date:8/13/2008

he authors use the neutral theory to predict the number of tree species and to test predictions of the Millenium Ecosystems Assessment that forecasts major tree extinctions in the Amazon over the next several decades. First, they estimate that the Brazilian Amazon has (or had) 11,210 large tree species, and, of these, 5,308 species are classified as rare.

Based on optimistic and non-optimistic scenarios for road construction in the Amazon published by the Smithsonian's William Laurance and colleagues in the journal Science in 2004, they predict that the rare species will suffer between 37 and 50 percent extinction, whereas the extinction rate for all trees could be from 20 to 33 percent overall.

Would a simpler Amazon forest lacking many of its rarer trees function? Will the extinction of species other than treespollinators, seed predators, carnivorescontribute significantly to the lost of rainforest resilience? This and other biological quandaries remain. The authors exhort: "Although it is an old scientific chestnut, we must once again emphasize how important it is to support continuing basic science on tropical forests."


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Contact: Beth King
kingb@si.edu
703-487-3770, ext. 8216
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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