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

ife, 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."


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

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