Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

At least 40,000 tree species in the tropical forests

05.06.2015

Study surprises with new numbers: forests of the Indo-Pacific region are as rich in species as the tropics in America

In a major project, researchers from 43 countries determined the number of tropical and subtropical tree species. Based on mapping and extrapolation, they estimate that there are 40,000 to 53,000 species worldwide.


Riverbanks in the Brazilian rainforest are characterized by various tree species. According to a new study, the forests in the Indo-Pacific region are as rich in tree species as the American tropics.

Michael Weling, Max Planck Institute for Chemie

Florian Wittmann from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry was also involved in the study now published. Wittmann, who has been doing research in Manaus in Brazil for years, says: "In the flooded forests in the Amazon region alone, we have been able to determine more than 800 tree species. Many of them are extremely rare, and therefore also highly endangered."

The tree expert is particularly surprised, however, by the diversity of species in the Indo-Pacific region. In contrast to previous assumptions, scientists have now found that the Indo-Pacific region, with 19,000-25,000 species, is as rich in species as the Central and South American forests. From previous studies, Wittmann and his colleagues had already discovered that around 16,000 tree species grow in the Amazon region.

The tropics of Africa, in contrast, with 5,000 tree species, have only a relatively low diversity. Worldwide, the new study arrives at a total number of 40,000-53,000 tropical tree species. Very few species occur concurrently in Africa, America and the Indo-Pacific area. In comparison, there are just 124 different tree species in Central Europe.

For their study, researchers in a total of 207 locations from Mexico to Africa to Australia determined the types and the amount of trees that grow there. Since on the one hand the locations are typical of vegetation for a larger area, but of different sizes, on the other, the international team had to standardize the counts at the various locations.

To this end, the researchers designed an area grid, with the size of a degree in geographic latitude and longitude across the continents, and projected the numbers for a location onto the standardized grid. They then multiplied this value with a specific factor, known as Fisher's Alpha Factor. From the species density determined for a standardized area, this factor enables determination of the number of tree species in an area such as the South American tropical forests.

Although these extrapolations still possess an element of uncertainty, it provides the first reliable numbers on tree species in the tropics. Previous estimates were based primarily on plant collections in herbariums. These estimates are less accurate, since often too much was collected in some regions, but too little in others.

They want to know the number of tree species in the world’s tropical forests as precisely as possible, because biodiversity is a major ecological factor. "Trees are extremely important for healthy ecosystems, since many animal and plant species depend on them", the Max Planck researcher says. “For example, numerous insect species live on a single tree." Florian Wittman also suspects that pharmacologically interesting substances can be obtained, in the future, from numerous of the still unknown tree species. He estimates that in the coming years the results of this study could be the basis for further beneficial protection programs. (SB/PH)

Original publication:
An estimate of the number of tropical tree species,
J.W. Ferry Slik et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1423147112.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mpic.de/en/news/press-information/news/mindestens-40000-baumarten-in-...

Dr. Susanne Benner | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Filling intercropping info gap
16.11.2017 | American Society of Agronomy

nachricht Climate change, population growth may lead to open ocean aquaculture
05.10.2017 | Oregon State University

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>