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      How People Domesticated Amazonian Forests

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          Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs.

          The commonly observed high diversity of trees in tropical rain forests and corals on tropical reefs is a nonequilibrium state which, if not disturbed further, will progress toward a low-diversity equilibrium community. This may not happen if gradual changes in climate favor different species. If equilibrium is reached, a lesser degree of diversity may be sustained by niche diversification or by a compensatory mortality that favors inferior competitors. However, tropical forests and reefs are subject to severe disturbances often enough that equilibrium may never be attained.
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            Community diversity: relative roles of local and regional processes.

            The species richness (diversity) of local plant and animal assemblages-biological communities-balances regional processes of species formation and geographic dispersal, which add species to communities, against processes of predation, competitive exclusion, adaptation, and stochastic variation, which may promote local extinction. During the past three decades, ecologists have sought to explain differences in local diversity by the influence of the physical environment on local interactions among species, interactions that are generally believed to limit the number of coexisting species. But diversity of the biological community often fails to converge under similar physical conditions, and local diversity bears a demonstrable dependence upon regional diversity. These observations suggest that regional and historical processes, as well as unique events and circumstances, profoundly influence local community structure. Ecologists must broaden their concepts of community processes and incorporate data from systematics, biogeography, and paleontology into analyses of ecological patterns and tests of community theory.
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              Hyperdominance in the Amazonian tree flora.

              The vast extent of the Amazon Basin has historically restricted the study of its tree communities to the local and regional scales. Here, we provide empirical data on the commonness, rarity, and richness of lowland tree species across the entire Amazon Basin and Guiana Shield (Amazonia), collected in 1170 tree plots in all major forest types. Extrapolations suggest that Amazonia harbors roughly 16,000 tree species, of which just 227 (1.4%) account for half of all trees. Most of these are habitat specialists and only dominant in one or two regions of the basin. We discuss some implications of the finding that a small group of species--less diverse than the North American tree flora--accounts for half of the world's most diverse tree community.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
                Front. Ecol. Evol.
                Frontiers Media SA
                2296-701X
                January 17 2018
                January 17 2018
                : 5
                Article
                10.3389/fevo.2017.00171
                8181e6e3-fb63-4b0d-b711-245e593bb330
                © 2018

                Free to read

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


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