33 research outputs found

    Syzygium (Myrtaceae): Monographing a taxonomic giant via 22 coordinated regional revisions

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    Syzygium Gaertn. is the largest woody genus of flowering plants in the world. Unpublished but extensive recent herbarium surveys suggest 1200‒1800 species distributed throughout the Old-World tropics and subtropics (Table 1). Until recently, Syzygium exemplified a recurring taxonomic impediment among megadiverse genera, wherein few taxonomists worked on the group in any sustained manner, a majority of the herbarium specimens remained undetermined or misidentified, few if any attempts were made to look at the genus globally and limited or no molecular studies were available to provide a predictive phylogenetic context of the genus. The situation with Syzygium has slowly begun to change as allied genera have been absorbed into the genus (Biffin et al., 2006; Craven & Biffin, 2010), and predictive phylogenetically based infrageneric classifications are emerging. Taxonomic outputs on Syzygium also have been increasing across its range with the description of new species, resolution of nomenclatural and typification issues, and some regional revisions being initiated or updated. However, virtually all regional treatments (which some areas lack) need urgent revision because they are severely outdated, have limited molecular sampling and are error-ridden. We are coordinating a genus-wide taxonomic update of Syzygium through a series of 22 regional revisions, including 9 in the Flora Malesiana region (Figure 1). Each treatment will include a phylogenetic framework with species descriptions, type information, synonymy, distributions, ecological notes, and keys. Field images (Figure 2) and/or line drawings will be included with the goal of every species being illustrated. This working group has been formed to encourage a coordinated effort to document this unwieldy taxonomic giant and regional botanists working on the group are encouraged to be involved. A robust taxonomy of the genus is a prerequisite for testing the many complex questions about evolution and ecology that Syzygium could help address

    Reducing Fertilizer and Avoiding Herbicides in Oil Palm Plantations—Ecological and Economic Valuations

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    Oil palm plantations are intensively managed agricultural systems that increasingly dominate certain tropical regions. Oil palm monocultures have been criticized because of their reduced biodiversity compared to the forests they historically replaced, and because of their negative impact on soils, water, and climate. We experimentally test whether less intensive management schemes may enhance biodiversity and lessen detrimental effects on the environment while maintaining high yields. We compare reduced vs. conventional fertilization, as well as mechanical vs. chemical weed control (with herbicides) in a long-term, full-factorial, multidisciplinary experiment. We conducted the experiment in an oil palm company estate in Sumatra, Indonesia, and report the results of the first 2 years. We measured soil nutrients and functions, surveyed above- and below-ground organisms, tracked oil palm condition and productivity, and calculated plantation gross margins. Plants, aboveground arthropods, and belowground animals were positively affected by mechanical vs. chemical weed control, but we could not detect effects on birds and bats. There were no detectable negative effects of reduced fertilization or mechanical weeding on oil palm yields, fine roots, or leaf area index. Also, we could not detect detrimental effects of the reduced fertilization and mechanical weeding on soil nutrients and functions (mineral nitrogen, bulk density, and litter decomposition), but water infiltration and base saturation tended to be higher under mechanical weeding, while soil moisture, and microbial biomass varied with treatment. Economic performance, measured as gross margins, was higher under reduced fertilization. There might be a delayed response of oil palm to the different management schemes applied, so results of future years may confirm whether this is a sustainable management strategy. Nevertheless, the initial effects of the experiment are encouraging to consider less intensive management practices as economically and ecologically viable options for oil palm plantations

    The global abundance of tree palms

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    Aim Palms are an iconic, diverse and often abundant component of tropical ecosystems that provide many ecosystem services. Being monocots, tree palms are evolutionarily, morphologically and physiologically distinct from other trees, and these differences have important consequences for ecosystem services (e.g., carbon sequestration and storage) and in terms of responses to climate change. We quantified global patterns of tree palm relative abundance to help improve understanding of tropical forests and reduce uncertainty about these ecosystems under climate change. Location Tropical and subtropical moist forests. Time period Current. Major taxa studied Palms (Arecaceae). Methods We assembled a pantropical dataset of 2,548 forest plots (covering 1,191 ha) and quantified tree palm (i.e., ≥10 cm diameter at breast height) abundance relative to co‐occurring non‐palm trees. We compared the relative abundance of tree palms across biogeographical realms and tested for associations with palaeoclimate stability, current climate, edaphic conditions and metrics of forest structure. Results On average, the relative abundance of tree palms was more than five times larger between Neotropical locations and other biogeographical realms. Tree palms were absent in most locations outside the Neotropics but present in >80% of Neotropical locations. The relative abundance of tree palms was more strongly associated with local conditions (e.g., higher mean annual precipitation, lower soil fertility, shallower water table and lower plot mean wood density) than metrics of long‐term climate stability. Life‐form diversity also influenced the patterns; palm assemblages outside the Neotropics comprise many non‐tree (e.g., climbing) palms. Finally, we show that tree palms can influence estimates of above‐ground biomass, but the magnitude and direction of the effect require additional work. Conclusions Tree palms are not only quintessentially tropical, but they are also overwhelmingly Neotropical. Future work to understand the contributions of tree palms to biomass estimates and carbon cycling will be particularly crucial in Neotropical forests

    Consistent patterns of common species across tropical tree communities

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    Trees structure the Earth’s most biodiverse ecosystem, tropical forests. The vast number of tree species presents a formidable challenge to understanding these forests, including their response to environmental change, as very little is known about most tropical tree species. A focus on the common species may circumvent this challenge. Here we investigate abundance patterns of common tree species using inventory data on 1,003,805 trees with trunk diameters of at least 10 cm across 1,568 locations1,2,3,4,5,6 in closed-canopy, structurally intact old-growth tropical forests in Africa, Amazonia and Southeast Asia. We estimate that 2.2%, 2.2% and 2.3% of species comprise 50% of the tropical trees in these regions, respectively. Extrapolating across all closed-canopy tropical forests, we estimate that just 1,053 species comprise half of Earth’s 800 billion tropical trees with trunk diameters of at least 10 cm. Despite differing biogeographic, climatic and anthropogenic histories7, we find notably consistent patterns of common species and species abundance distributions across the continents. This suggests that fundamental mechanisms of tree community assembly may apply to all tropical forests. Resampling analyses show that the most common species are likely to belong to a manageable list of known species, enabling targeted efforts to understand their ecology. Although they do not detract from the importance of rare species, our results open new opportunities to understand the world’s most diverse forests, including modelling their response to environmental change, by focusing on the common species that constitute the majority of their trees.Publisher PDFPeer reviewe

    Phylogenetic classification of the world's tropical forests

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    Knowledge about the biogeographic affinities of the world’s tropical forests helps to better understand regional differences in forest structure, diversity, composition, and dynamics. Such understanding will enable anticipation of region-specific responses to global environmental change. Modern phylogenies, in combination with broad coverage of species inventory data, now allow for global biogeographic analyses that take species evolutionary distance into account. Here we present a classification of the world’s tropical forests based on their phylogenetic similarity. We identify five principal floristic regions and their floristic relationships: (i) Indo-Pacific, (ii) Subtropical, (iii) African, (iv) American, and (v) Dry forests. Our results do not support the traditional neo- versus paleotropical forest division but instead separate the combined American and African forests from their Indo-Pacific counterparts. We also find indications for the existence of a global dry forest region, with representatives in America, Africa, Madagascar, and India. Additionally, a northern-hemisphere Subtropical forest region was identified with representatives in Asia and America, providing support for a link between Asian and American northern-hemisphere forests.</p

    Five new species of Syzygium (Myrtaceae) from Sulawesi, Indonesia

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    Following ongoing ecological research on the tree diversity of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, we describe five new species of Syzygium. These are the first descriptions of Syzygium species from the island since Blume (1850, Jambosa celebica and J. cornifolia), highlighting the significant lack of taxonomic research on the genus for the region. The five species proposed as new are Syzygium balgooyi sp. nov., Syzygium contiguum sp. nov., Syzygium devogelii sp. nov., Syzygium eymae sp. nov., and Syzygium galanthum sp. nov. All species are illustrated and information on their distribution, ecology, and conservation status is given