1 Tahrcountry Musings: Why Are Tropical Forests Biologically Rich?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why Are Tropical Forests Biologically Rich?

The question why are tropical forests biologically rich is a question posed by many people. Smithsonian researchers have come up with an answer to this puzzle.
According to the researchers one explanation for the maintenance of the diversity of tropical trees is that adult trees harbor pests and diseases that harm seedlings of their own species more than they do seedlings of other species. The study showed that underground organisms are the key to species diversity and patterns of tree-species relative abundance.
Dr Mangan the lead researcher planted seedlings of five species under adults of each species in the forest. In a greenhouse experiment he grew seedlings of each species in soil collected around the base of each of the other species. Dr Mangan and colleagues found that the ability of seedlings of a species to survive when grown in soil from the same species predicted how common or rare they are as adults. Plant interactions with soil biota alone are powerful and specific enough to explain why multiple species co-exist.
Neutral Theory of Biodiversity, which is premised on the idea that all species are the same, has been turned on its head by the new research
Details of the study is published in the journal, Nature

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