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:5/16/2016)... --  EyeLock LLC , a market leader of iris-based ... IoT Center of Excellence in Austin, Texas ... embedded iris biometric applications. EyeLock,s iris authentication ... with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it the most proven ... platform uses video technology to deliver a fast and ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 Infosys ... (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung SDS, a global ... that will provide end customers with a more secure, fast ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/589162 ) , ... but it also plays a fundamental part in enabling and ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... UAE, April 20, 2016 The ... as a compact web-based "all-in-one" system solution for all ... fingerprint reader or the door interface with integration authorization ... access control systems. The minimal dimensions of the access ... into the building installations offer considerable freedom of design ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... 2016  Liquid Biotech USA ... a Sponsored Research Agreement with The University of ... from cancer patients.  The funding will be used ... with clinical outcomes in cancer patients undergoing a ... be employed to support the design of a ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... While the ... such as the Cary 5000 and the 6000i models are higher end machines that ... the height of the spectrophotometer’s light beam from the bottom of the cuvette holder. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   Boston Biomedical ... novel compounds designed to target cancer stemness pathways, ... been granted Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. ... of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. ... designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... YM (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. ... microbial tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: