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Trends Ecol Evol. 1995 Jan;10(1):18-22.

Research in large, long-term tropical forest plots.

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  • 1Smithsomian Tropical Research Institute, Unit 0948, APO AA 34002-0948, USA; Apartado 2072, Balboa, República de Panamá, USA.


The past 15 years has seen the creation oflarge (>/16 ha) permanent inventory plots in each of the major tropical forest formations of the world. Currently, six such plots have been fully mapped, and five more and under way. A standardized methodology is used at all sites - a complete census of all trees and saplings down to 1 cm in diameter - thus assuring strict comparability between sites and allowing the development of general models for the dynamics of tropical forests. The inventories aim to gather demographic information on individual tree species, to provide long-term information on forest composition so that future changes can be detected, to estimate the economic value of forest resources, to generate models of sustainable extraction, and to provide data on underused native species for use in reforestation or plantation forestry. The plots also provide data from undisturbed forest to serve as a control for anthropological and management studies of harvested forests.

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