61 research outputs found

    The number of tree species on Earth

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    One of the most fundamental questions in ecology is how many species inhabit the Earth. However, due to massive logistical and financial challenges and taxonomic difficulties connected to the species concept definition, the global numbers of species, including those of important and well-studied life forms such as trees, still remain largely unknown. Here, based on global ground sourced data, we estimate the total tree species richness at global, continental, and biome levels. Our results indicate that there are ‚ąľ73,000 tree species globally, among which ‚ąľ9,000 tree species are yet to be discovered. Roughly 40% of undiscovered tree species are in South America. Moreover, almost one-third of all tree species to be discovered may be rare, with very low populations and limited spatial distribution (likely in remote tropical lowlands and mountains). These findings highlight the vulnerability of global forest biodiversity to anthropogenic changes in land use and climate, which disproportionately threaten rare species and thus, global tree richness. Please note an (erratum/corrigendum) for this article is available via https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.220278411

    Evenness mediates the global relationship between forest productivity and richness

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    1. Biodiversity is an important component of natural ecosystems, with higher species richness often correlating with an increase in ecosystem productivity. Yet, this relationship varies substantially across environments, typically becoming less pronounced at high levels of species richness. However, species richness alone cannot reflect all important properties of a community, including community evenness, which may mediate the relationship between biodiversity and productivity. If the evenness of a community correlates negatively with richness across forests globally, then a greater number of species may not always increase overall diversity and productivity of the system. Theoretical work and local empirical studies have shown that the effect of evenness on ecosystem functioning may be especially strong at high richness levels, yet the consistency of this remains untested at a global scale. 2. Here, we used a dataset of forests from across the globe, which includes composition, biomass accumulation and net primary productivity, to explore whether productivity correlates with community evenness and richness in a way that evenness appears to buffer the effect of richness. Specifically, we evaluated whether low levels of evenness in speciose communities correlate with the attenuation of the richness‚Äďproductivity relationship. 3. We found that tree species richness and evenness are negatively correlated across forests globally, with highly speciose forests typically comprising a few dominant and many rare species. Furthermore, we found that the correlation between diversity and productivity changes with evenness: at low richness, uneven communities are more productive, while at high richness, even communities are more productive. 4. Synthesis. Collectively, these results demonstrate that evenness is an integral component of the relationship between biodiversity and productivity, and that the attenuating effect of richness on forest productivity might be partly explained by low evenness in speciose communities. Productivity generally increases with species richness, until reduced evenness limits the overall increases in community diversity. Our research suggests that evenness is a fundamental component of biodiversity‚Äď ecosystem function relationships, and is of critical importance for guiding conservation and sustainable ecosystem management decisions

    Pangolins in global camera trap data: Implications for ecological monitoring

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    Despite being heavily exploited, pangolins (Pholidota: Manidae) have been subject to limited research, resulting in a lack of reliable population estimates and standardised survey methods for the eight extant species. Camera trapping represents a unique opportunity for broad-scale collaborative species monitoring due to its largely non-discriminatory nature, which creates considerable volumes of data on a relatively wide range of species. This has the potential to shed light on the ecology of rare, cryptic and understudied taxa, with implications for conservation decision-making. We undertook a global analysis of available pangolin data from camera trapping studies across their range in Africa and Asia. Our aims were (1) to assess the utility of existing camera trapping efforts as a method for monitoring pangolin populations, and (2) to gain insights into the distribution and ecology of pangolins. We analysed data collated from 103 camera trap surveys undertaken across 22 countries that fell within the range of seven of the eight pangolin species, which yielded more than half a million trap nights and 888 pangolin encounters. We ran occupancy analyses on three species (Sunda pangolin Manis javanica, white-bellied pangolin Phataginus tricuspis and giant pangolin Smutsia gigantea). Detection probabilities varied with forest cover and levels of human influence for P. tricuspis, but were low (<0.05) for all species. Occupancy was associated with distance from rivers for M. javanica and S. gigantea, elevation for P. tricuspis and S. gigantea, forest cover for P. tricuspis and protected area status for M. javanica and P. tricuspis. We conclude that camera traps are suitable for the detection of pangolins and large-scale assessment of their distributions. However, the trapping effort required to monitor populations at any given study site using existing methods appears prohibitively high. This may change in the future should anticipated technological and methodological advances in camera trapping facilitate greater sampling efforts and/or higher probabilities of detection. In particular, targeted camera placement for pangolins is likely to make pangolin monitoring more feasible with moderate sampling efforts

    Pangolins in Global Camera Trap Data: Implications for Ecological Monitoring

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    Despite being heavily exploited, pangolins (Pholidota: Manidae) have been subject to limited research, resulting in a lack of reliable population estimates and standardised survey methods for the eight extant species. Camera trapping represents a unique opportunity for broad-scale collaborative species monitoring due to its largely non-discriminatory nature, which creates considerable volumes of data on a relatively wide range of species. This has the potential to shed light on the ecology of rare, cryptic and understudied taxa, with implications for conservation decision-making. We undertook a global analysis of available pangolin data from camera trapping studies across their range in Africa and Asia. Our aims were (1) to assess the utility of existing camera trapping efforts as a method for monitoring pangolin populations, and (2) to gain insights into the distribution and ecology of pangolins. We analysed data collated from 103 camera trap surveys undertaken across 22 countries that fell within the range of seven of the eight pangolin species, which yielded more than half a million trap nights and 888 pangolin encounters. We ran occupancy analyses on three species (Sunda pangolin Manis javanica, white-bellied pangolin Phataginus tricuspis and giant pangolin Smutsia gigantea). Detection probabilities varied with forest cover and levels of human influence for P. tricuspis, but were low (M. javanica and S. gigantea, elevation for P. tricuspis and S. gigantea, forest cover for P. tricuspis and protected area status for M. javanica and P. tricuspis. We conclude that camera traps are suitable for the detection of pangolins and large-scale assessment of their distributions. However, the trapping effort required to monitor populations at any given study site using existing methods appears prohibitively high. This may change in the future should anticipated technological and methodological advances in camera trapping facilitate greater sampling efforts and/or higher probabilities of detection. In particular, targeted camera placement for pangolins is likely to make pangolin monitoring more feasible with moderate sampling efforts

    High aboveground carbon stock of African tropical montane forests

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    Tropical forests store 40-50 per cent of terrestrial vegetation carbon(1). However, spatial variations in aboveground live tree biomass carbon (AGC) stocks remain poorly understood, in particular in tropical montane forests(2). Owing to climatic and soil changes with increasing elevation(3), AGC stocks are lower in tropical montane forests compared with lowland forests(2). Here we assemble and analyse a dataset of structurally intact old-growth forests (AfriMont) spanning 44 montane sites in 12 African countries. We find that montane sites in the AfriMont plot network have a mean AGC stock of 149.4 megagrams of carbon per hectare (95% confidence interval 137.1-164.2), which is comparable to lowland forests in the African Tropical Rainforest Observation Network(4) and about 70 per cent and 32 per cent higher than averages from plot networks in montane(2,5,6) and lowland(7) forests in the Neotropics, respectively. Notably, our results are two-thirds higher than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change default values for these forests in Africa(8). We find that the low stem density and high abundance of large trees of African lowland forests(4) is mirrored in the montane forests sampled. This carbon store is endangered: we estimate that 0.8 million hectares of old-growth African montane forest have been lost since 2000. We provide country-specific montane forest AGC stock estimates modelled from our plot network to help to guide forest conservation and reforestation interventions. Our findings highlight the need for conserving these biodiverse(9,10) and carbon-rich ecosystems. The aboveground carbon stock of a montane African forest network is comparable to that of a lowland African forest network and two-thirds higher than default values for these montane forests.Peer reviewe

    Integrated global assessment of the natural forest carbon potential

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    Forests are a substantial terrestrial carbon sink, but anthropogenic changes in land use and climate have considerably reduced the scale of this system 1. Remote-sensing estimates to quantify carbon losses from global forests 2‚Äď5 are characterized by considerable uncertainty and we lack a comprehensive ground-sourced evaluation to benchmark these estimates. Here we combine several ground-sourced 6 and satellite-derived approaches 2,7,8 to evaluate the scale of the global forest carbon potential outside agricultural and urban lands. Despite regional variation, the predictions demonstrated remarkable consistency at a global scale, with only¬†a 12% difference between the ground-sourced and satellite-derived estimates. At present, global forest carbon storage is markedly under the natural potential, with a total deficit of 226 Gt (model range = 151‚Äď363 Gt) in areas with low human footprint. Most (61%, 139 Gt C) of this potential is in areas with existing forests, in which ecosystem protection can allow forests to recover to maturity. The remaining 39% (87 Gt C) of potential lies in regions in which forests have been removed or fragmented. Although forests cannot be a substitute for emissions reductions, our results support the idea 2,3,9 that the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of diverse forests offer valuable contributions to meeting global climate and biodiversity targets

    The global biogeography of tree leaf form and habit

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    Understanding what controls global leaf type variation in trees is crucial for comprehending their role in terrestrial ecosystems, including carbon, water and nutrient dynamics. Yet our understanding of the factors influencing forest leaf types remains incomplete, leaving us uncertain about the global proportions of needle-leaved, broadleaved, evergreen and deciduous trees. To address these gaps, we conducted a global, ground-sourced assessment of forest leaf-type variation by integrating forest inventory data with comprehensive leaf form (broadleaf vs needle-leaf) and habit (evergreen vs deciduous) records. We found that global variation in leaf habit is primarily driven by isothermality and soil characteristics, while leaf form is predominantly driven by temperature. Given these relationships, we estimate that 38% of global tree individuals are needle-leaved evergreen, 29% are broadleaved evergreen, 27% are broadleaved deciduous and 5% are needle-leaved deciduous. The aboveground biomass distribution among these tree types is approximately 21% (126.4 Gt), 54% (335.7 Gt), 22% (136.2 Gt) and 3% (18.7 Gt), respectively. We further project that, depending on future emissions pathways, 17‚Äď34% of forested areas will experience climate conditions by the end of the century that currently support a different forest type, highlighting the intensification of climatic stress on existing forests. By quantifying the distribution of tree leaf types and their corresponding biomass, and identifying regions where climate change will exert greatest pressure on current leaf types, our results can help improve predictions of future terrestrial ecosystem functioning and carbon cycling

    The number of tree species on Earth

    Get PDF
    One of the most fundamental questions in ecology is how many species inhabit the Earth. However, due to massive logistical and financial challenges and taxonomic difficulties connected to the species concept definition, the global numbers of species, including those of important and well-studied life forms such as trees, still remain largely unknown. Here, based on global groundsourced data, we estimate the total tree species richness at global, continental, and biome levels. Our results indicate that there are 73,000 tree species globally, among which ‚ąľ9,000 tree species are yet to be discovered. Roughly 40% of undiscovered tree species are in South America. Moreover, almost one-third of all tree species to be discovered may be rare, with very low populations and limited spatial distribution (likely in remote tropical lowlands and mountains). These findings highlight the vulnerability of global forest biodiversity to anthropogenic changes in land use and climate, which disproportionately threaten rare species and thus, global tree richness

    The number of tree species on Earth.

    Get PDF
    One of the most fundamental questions in ecology is how many species inhabit the Earth. However, due to massive logistical and financial challenges and taxonomic difficulties connected to the species concept definition, the global numbers of species, including those of important and well-studied life forms such as trees, still remain largely unknown. Here, based on global ground-sourced data, we estimate the total tree species richness at global, continental, and biome levels. Our results indicate that there are ‚ąľ73,000 tree species globally, among which ‚ąľ9,000 tree species are yet to be discovered. Roughly 40% of undiscovered tree species are in South America. Moreover, almost one-third of all tree species to be discovered may be rare, with very low populations and limited spatial distribution (likely in remote tropical lowlands and mountains). These findings highlight the vulnerability of global forest biodiversity to anthropogenic changes in land use and climate, which disproportionately threaten rare species and thus, global tree richness
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