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Ecol Evol. 2013 Sep;3(10):3263-74. doi: 10.1002/ece3.705. Epub 2013 Aug 6.

Tropical rain forest conservation and the twin challenges of diversity and rarity.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, California, 90095 ; Center for Tropical Forest Science, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute 9100 Panama City Pl, Washington DC, 20521-9100.


Data from a global network of large, permanent plots in lowland tropical forests demonstrate (1) that the phenomenon of tropical tree rarity is real and (2) that almost all the species diversity in such forests is due to rare species. Theoretical and empirically based reasoning suggests that many of these rare species are not as geographically widespread as previously thought. These findings suggest that successful strategies for conserving global tree diversity in lowland tropical forests must pay much more attention to the biogeography of rarity, as well as to the impact of climate change on the distribution and abundance of rare species. Because the biogeography of many tropical tree species is poorly known, a high priority should be given to documenting the distribution and abundance of rare tropical tree species, particularly in Amazonia, the largest remaining tropical forested region in the world.


tropical forest conservation; tropical tree rarity

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