Navigation Links
Tropical biodiversity is about the neighbors
Date:6/25/2010

Home to jaguars, harpy eagles and red-eyed tree frogs, tropical forests support some of the rarest species on the planet and are the most biodiverse ecosystems on land. Understanding why some species are common while others are exceedingly rare has been a challenge in these mega-diverse forests. New results from a massive study at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute show that interactions among community members play an important role in determining which organisms thrive.

"Based on information about the survival of more than 30,000 seedlings of 180 species of tropical trees, we found that seedlings of rare species are much more sensitive to the presence of neighbors of their own species than seedlings of common species are," said Liza Comita, the primary author on the study and now a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. "Not only does this tell us where to look for the mechanisms that explain why certain species are rare, but it also provides potential clues about how to conserve rare species that are most vulnerable to extinction."

The lowland tropical forest on Panama's Barro Colorado Island is the site of a huge long-term study focusing on plant diversity: more than 400,000 individual trees and shrubs of more than 300 species have been marked, mapped and measured every five years for the past 30 years. A unique window on climate change and other large-scale processes, the experiment was originally set up because two ecologists, Robin Foster, now at Chicago's Field Museum, and Stephen Hubbell at UCLA, a co-author on this paper, had an argument about how life organizes itself.

What determines the members of a community? The study sitea patch of forest the size of nearly 100 football fieldsis large enough to include individuals of many rare species that would not be present in smaller studies. After realizing that many of the processes that shape diversity happen early in a tree's life, researchers decided to expand the study to include an annual survey of seedlings growing in the forest understory. This study of seedlings, led by Comita, Hubbell and Panamanian botanist and co-author Salomn Aguilar, has now been going for nearly a decade and has yielded new insights into this diverse forest.

For years, researchers have noticed that individual plants surrounded by neighbors of the same species do not grow and survive as well as individual plants surrounded by other species. Some evidence suggests that this is either because pests and pathogens move more readily among individuals of the same species or because they are competing with each other for the same resources.

"It became clear with this seedling survival survey that even though neighbors can be shaded out by individuals of the same or of other species, there are real differences in the survival of different species depending on how many of their neighbors are the same species," said Helene Muller-Landau, staff scientist at the Smithsonian and adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota. "Some of our colleagues are working on the specific mechanisms that explain these differences, and we look forward to seeing their results, which will be published soon."


'/>"/>

Contact: Beth King
kingb@si.edu
703-487-3770 x8216
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Bacterioplankton responses to desert dust in the (sub)tropical northeast Atlantic
2. Low-tech cool: Shade trees for subtropical streets
3. Local social dynamics key to success of tropical marine conservation areas
4. Brown biologist solves mystery of tropical grasses origin
5. MSU researcher awarded $2 million to tackle parasitic tropical diseases
6. First phase of pan-tropical forest mapping debuting at COP15
7. Breakthrough in monitoring tropical deforestation announced in Copenhagen
8. Tropical birds waited for land crossing between North and South America: UBC study
9. Tropical forests affected by habitat fragmentation store less biomass and carbon dioxide
10. Plant fossils give first real picture of earliest Neotropical rainforests
11. Global warming threatens tropical species, the ecosystem and its by-products
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Tropical biodiversity is about the neighbors
(Date:6/2/2016)... Perimeter Surveillance & Detection Systems, ... Infrastructure, Support & Other Service  The latest ... comprehensive analysis of the global Border Security market ... of $17.98 billion in 2016. Now: In ... in software and hardware technologies for advanced video surveillance. ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... IRVINE, Calif. , May 24, 2016 Ampronix facilitates superior patient care ... LMD3251MT  3D medical LCD display is the latest premium product recently added to ... ... ... Sony 3d Imaging- LCD Medical Display- Ampronix News ...
(Date:5/16/2016)... YORK , May 16, 2016   EyeLock ... solutions, today announced the opening of an IoT Center ... to strengthen and expand the development of embedded iris ... an unprecedented level of convenience and security with unmatched ... authenticate one,s identity aside from DNA. EyeLock,s platform uses ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... WI (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... supplements, is pleased to announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into ... for over 35 years, is proud to add Target to its list of ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 A person commits a crime, ... scene to track the criminal down. An outbreak ... and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used ... investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Calif. , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation ... increasingly precise treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the Class ... across 15 countries. Read More About the Class of ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... today announced the launch of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in ... to explore the future of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought ...
Breaking Biology Technology: