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Why do so many species live in tropical forests and coral reefs?
Date:10/30/2007

e, in real life, adaptation to niches is an obvious feature of living creatures. For example, polar bears are adapted to the chilly niche of the Arctic, not to the sultry niche of the tropics. Still, Hubbell's findings hinted that the abundance of species and the development of ecological communities and ecosystems owe more to chance processes, and less to biology, than previously had been assumed.

Since 2001, numerous researchers have published the results of field tests of Hubbell's theory, based on their analyses of life forms and habitats such as tropical forests, North American birds, tropical reef fishes and corals, marine benthic communities in intertidal zones, and pollen records of eastern North American during the Holocene. Test results have varied from strongly positive to strongly negative. Some groups have disagreed in their interpretations of the same data.

In March 2006, Maria Dornelas of James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, and her colleagues published in Nature their study of coral-reef communities in the Indian and Pacific oceans. They found the coral-reef species in various local communities differ from each other far more than expected by neutral theory, and they exhibit RSA patterns that are quite distinct from those of tropical forests. The Nature article was titled "Coral Reef Diversity Refutes the Neutral Theory of Biodiversity." In their new Nature article, Volkov et al. reply to this latest challenge by arguing that the Dornelas team's thesis is invalid because the spatial structure and degree of isolation of coral-reef communities is different from those of tropical forests. In their latest paper, Banavar, Maritan, Volkov, and their collaborators have reanalyzed the Dornelas dataset and have concluded that it and measurements of rainforest species are compatible with an extended version of neutral theory in which all species are equivalent and do not interact with each other or the environment. Their
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Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy
science@psu.edu
814-863-4682
Penn State  
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3 4

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