73 research outputs found

    There's no place like home: seedling mortality contributes to the habitat specialisation of tree species across Amazonia

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    Understanding the mechanisms generating species distributions remains a challenge, especially in hyperdiverse tropical forests. We evaluated the role of rainfall variation, soil gradients and herbivory on seedling mortality, and how variation in seedling performance along these gradients contributes to habitat specialisation. In a 4-year experiment, replicated at the two extremes of the Amazon basin, we reciprocally transplanted 4638 tree seedlings of 41 habitat-specialist species from seven phylogenetic lineages among the three most important forest habitats of lowland Amazonia. Rainfall variation, flooding and soil gradients strongly influenced seedling mortality, whereas herbivory had negligible impact. Seedling mortality varied strongly among habitats, consistent with predictions for habitat specialists in most lineages. This suggests that seedling performance is a primary determinant of the habitat associations of adult trees across Amazonia. It further suggests that tree diversity, currently mostly harboured in terra firme forests, may be strongly impacted by the predicted climate changes in Amazonia

    The importance of environmental heterogeneity and spatial distance in generating phylogeographic structure in edaphic specialist and generalist tree species of Protium (Burseraceae) across the Amazon Basin

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    ABSTRACT Aim Edaphic heterogeneity may be an important driver of population differentiation in the Amazon but remains to be investigated in trees. We compared the phylogeographic structure across the geographic distribution of two Protium (Burseraceae) species with different degrees of edaphic specialization: Protium alvarezianum, an edaphic specialist of white-sand habitat islands; and Protium subserratum, an edaphic generalist found in white sand as well as in more widespread soil types. We predicted that in the edaphic specialist, geographic distance would structure populations more strongly than in the edaphic generalist, and that soil type would not structure populations in the edaphic generalist unless habitat acts as a barrier promoting population differentiation. Location Tropical rain forests of the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon, Guyana and French Guiana. Methods We sequenced 1209-1211 bp of non-coding nuclear ribosomal DNA (internal transcribed spacer and external transcribed spacer) and a neutral lowcopy nuclear gene (phytochrome C) from P. subserratum (n = 65, 10 populations) and P. alvarezianum (n = 19, three populations). We conducted a Bayesian phylogenetic analysis, constructed maximum parsimony haplotype networks and assessed population differentiation among groups (soil type or geographic locality) using analysis of molecular variance and spatial analysis of molecular variance. Results The edaphic specialist exhibited considerable genetic differentiation among geographically distant populations. The edaphic generalist showed significant genetic differentiation between the Guianan and Amazon Basin populations. Within Peru, soil type and not geographic distance explained most of the variation among populations. Non-white-sand populations in Peru exhibited lower haplotype/nucleotide diversity than white-sand populations, were each other's close relatives, and formed an unresolved clade derived from within the white-sand populations. Main conclusions Geographic distance is a stronger driver of population differentiation in the edaphic specialist than in the generalist. However, this difference did not appear to be related to edaphic generalism per se as adjacent populations from both soil types in the edaphic generalist did not share many haplotypes. Populations of the edaphic generalist in white-sand habitats exhibite

    A test of the Geographic Mosaic Theory of Coevolution: investigating widespread species of Amazonian Protium (Burseraceae) trees, their chemical defenses, and their associated herbivore faunas

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    IntroductionPlants and their insect herbivores represent a large fraction of the species in Amazonian forests and are often directly implicated in the origin and maintenance of biodiversity at local and regional scales. How these interactions may change over geographic distance is unknown because very few studies have investigated the herbivore fauna and defense chemicals of any host plant species at multiple sites in tropical forests. One hypothesis, the Geographic Mosaic Theory of Coevolution, predicts that if herbivore assemblages turn over in different parts of a plant’s range, then plant defense chemicals should also change, reflecting local selection pressures.MethodsWe tested this theory by studying 12 species of Protium (Burseraceae) trees that occur in both Iquitos, Peru, and Manaus, Brazil, in rainforests separated by 1500 km. We surveyed all insects observed directly feeding on the plants in both locations for 48 weeks in Manaus and 64 weeks in Iquitos. We analyzed the secondary metabolites in the leaves of all species in both locations using GC/MS and HPLC.Results and DiscussionAlthough in both locations we found that Protium herbivores were dominated by insects from the orders Hemiptera, Coleoptera and Lepidoptera, we found almost complete turnover in the herbivore species composition in the two sites, and each host plant species had a different assemblage of herbivores in each location. Comparing the phylogenetic beta-diversity, we found low similarity in herbivore phylogenetic relatedness between host plant species in the two locations. However, the secondary metabolites found within a Protium species were similar across the two locations. We found no strong evidence that individuals from a host plant species in Iquitos or Manaus expressed locally-adapted defense chemicals, as individuals from geographic locations did not form clusters when looking at patterns of chemical similarity. These results are not consistent with the Geographic Mosaic Theory of Coevolution. The most intriguing pattern we found was a strong correlation between the diversity of herbivores per host plant species in both locations. We also found that plants with high chemical richness had lower numbers of herbivore species and numbers of total herbivores in both locations. We conclude that high chemical diversity is the most effective strategy for Protium trees to reduce insect herbivore attacks. We speculate that each secondary metabolite is effective at repelling only a few insect herbivores, and that different chemicals are likely effective in different parts of a plants’ geographic range. Future studies should investigate additional locations and additional natural enemies (i.e., fungal pathogens) to test the hypothesis that chemical diversity reduces attack from natural enemies and may explain the ecological and evolutionary success of rainforest trees over time and space

    Local hydrological conditions influence tree diversity and composition across the Amazon basin

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    Tree diversity and composition in Amazonia are known to be strongly determined by the water supplied by precipitation. Nevertheless, within the same climatic regime, water availability is modulated by local topography and soil characteristics (hereafter referred to as local hydrological conditions), varying from saturated and poorly drained to well-drained and potentially dry areas. While these conditions may be expected to influence species distribution, the impacts of local hydrological conditions on tree diversity and composition remain poorly understood at the whole Amazon basin scale. Using a dataset of 443 1-ha non-flooded forest plots distributed across the basin, we investigate how local hydrological conditions influence 1) tree alpha diversity, 2) the community-weighted wood density mean (CWM-wd) – a proxy for hydraulic resistance and 3) tree species composition. We find that the effect of local hydrological conditions on tree diversity depends on climate, being more evident in wetter forests, where diversity increases towards locations with well-drained soils. CWM-wd increased towards better drained soils in Southern and Western Amazonia. Tree species composition changed along local soil hydrological gradients in Central-Eastern, Western and Southern Amazonia, and those changes were correlated with changes in the mean wood density of plots. Our results suggest that local hydrological gradients filter species, influencing the diversity and composition of Amazonian forests. Overall, this study shows that the effect of local hydrological conditions is pervasive, extending over wide Amazonian regions, and reinforces the importance of accounting for local topography and hydrology to better understand the likely response and resilience of forests to increased frequency of extreme climate events and rising temperatures

    Estimating the global conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species

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    Estimates of extinction risk for Amazonian plant and animal species are rare and not often incorporated into land-use policy and conservation planning. We overlay spatial distribution models with historical and projected deforestation to show that at least 36% and up to 57% of all Amazonian tree species are likely to qualify as globally threatened under International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria. If confirmed, these results would increase the number of threatened plant species on Earth by 22%. We show that the trends observed in Amazonia apply to trees throughout the tropics, and we predict thatmost of the world’s >40,000 tropical tree species now qualify as globally threatened. A gap analysis suggests that existing Amazonian protected areas and indigenous territories will protect viable populations of most threatened species if these areas suffer no further degradation, highlighting the key roles that protected areas, indigenous peoples, and improved governance can play in preventing large-scale extinctions in the tropics in this century

    Estimating the global conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species

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    Geographic patterns of tree dispersal modes in Amazonia and their ecological correlates

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    Aim: To investigate the geographic patterns and ecological correlates in the geographic distribution of the most common tree dispersal modes in Amazonia (endozoochory, synzoochory, anemochory and hydrochory). We examined if the proportional abundance of these dispersal modes could be explained by the availability of dispersal agents (disperser-availability hypothesis) and/or the availability of resources for constructing zoochorous fruits (resource-availability hypothesis). Time period: Tree-inventory plots established between 1934 and 2019. Major taxa studied: Trees with a diameter at breast height (DBH) ≥ 9.55 cm. Location: Amazonia, here defined as the lowland rain forests of the Amazon River basin and the Guiana Shield. Methods: We assigned dispersal modes to a total of 5433 species and morphospecies within 1877 tree-inventory plots across terra-firme, seasonally flooded, and permanently flooded forests. We investigated geographic patterns in the proportional abundance of dispersal modes. We performed an abundance-weighted mean pairwise distance (MPD) test and fit generalized linear models (GLMs) to explain the geographic distribution of dispersal modes. Results: Anemochory was significantly, positively associated with mean annual wind speed, and hydrochory was significantly higher in flooded forests. Dispersal modes did not consistently show significant associations with the availability of resources for constructing zoochorous fruits. A lower dissimilarity in dispersal modes, resulting from a higher dominance of endozoochory, occurred in terra-firme forests (excluding podzols) compared to flooded forests. Main conclusions: The disperser-availability hypothesis was well supported for abiotic dispersal modes (anemochory and hydrochory). The availability of resources for constructing zoochorous fruits seems an unlikely explanation for the distribution of dispersal modes in Amazonia. The association between frugivores and the proportional abundance of zoochory requires further research, as tree recruitment not only depends on dispersal vectors but also on conditions that favour or limit seedling recruitment across forest types

    Mapping density, diversity and species-richness of the Amazon tree flora

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    Using 2.046 botanically-inventoried tree plots across the largest tropical forest on Earth, we mapped tree species-diversity and tree species-richness at 0.1-degree resolution, and investigated drivers for diversity and richness. Using only location, stratified by forest type, as predictor, our spatial model, to the best of our knowledge, provides the most accurate map of tree diversity in Amazonia to date, explaining approximately 70% of the tree diversity and species-richness. Large soil-forest combinations determine a significant percentage of the variation in tree species-richness and tree alpha-diversity in Amazonian forest-plots. We suggest that the size and fragmentation of these systems drive their large-scale diversity patterns and hence local diversity. A model not using location but cumulative water deficit, tree density, and temperature seasonality explains 47% of the tree species-richness in the terra-firme forest in Amazonia. Over large areas across Amazonia, residuals of this relationship are small and poorly spatially structured, suggesting that much of the residual variation may be local. The Guyana Shield area has consistently negative residuals, showing that this area has lower tree species-richness than expected by our models. We provide extensive plot meta-data, including tree density, tree alpha-diversity and tree species-richness results and gridded maps at 0.1-degree resolution

    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

    Unraveling Amazon tree community assembly using Maximum Information Entropy: a quantitative analysis of tropical forest ecology

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    In a time of rapid global change, the question of what determines patterns in species abundance distribution remains a priority for understanding the complex dynamics of ecosystems. The constrained maximization of information entropy provides a framework for the understanding of such complex systems dynamics by a quantitative analysis of important constraints via predictions using least biased probability distributions. We apply it to over two thousand hectares of Amazonian tree inventories across seven forest types and thirteen functional traits, representing major global axes of plant strategies. Results show that constraints formed by regional relative abundances of genera explain eight times more of local relative abundances than constraints based on directional selection for specific functional traits, although the latter does show clear signals of environmental dependency. These results provide a quantitative insight by inference from large-scale data using cross-disciplinary methods, furthering our understanding of ecological dynamics
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