Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Seeing the wood for the trees: research reveals the survival secrets of forest trees

31.05.2002


Species extinction or `biodiversity loss` has accelerated at an alarming rate over the past century. Although much of the blame has been laid at the door of human activity, biologists are looking at the factors that influence how species-particularly similar species-co-exist, in their efforts to better understand how the balance of species can be maintained.



New research into forest trees by Dr Colleen Kelly of the Division of Ecology and Biodiversity at the University of Southampton has shown that trees of similar species growing together in a forest will follow different cycles of success in achieving maturity. In successful forests these cycles complement each other allowing both species to grow without one displacing the other.

`We know a lot about how different species co-exist in nature, but the means by which similar species can also co-exist-without one necessarily dominating the other-is a central question in ecology,` says Dr Kelly. `It is also one of growing importance as humans become increasingly responsible for the construction and maintenance of `natural` areas, in cities and countryside.`


The report of Dr Kelly`s study, written in collaboration with Dr Michael Bowler of the University of Oxford, has been published in the journal Nature this month.

Dr Kelly`s research team looked at trees in one of the most diverse deciduous forests in the world, near Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast of Mexico. They found that while one species might be more sensitive to some fluctuating factor in the environment, such as drought or pests, another would grow less rapidly but be better at withstanding adverse conditions.

`The slower growing tree has to spend energy to produce a larger, deeper root system to stave off drought effects, or to make chemical defences that repel insects, explains Dr Kelly. `If the young of the two species meet, the faster growing species will be able to outgrow and essentially displace the other.`

`In times of plentiful rainfall or low levels of pests, the young of the fast growing species survive and the others do not. But when conditions deteriorate the seedlings and saplings of the "slow but sure" species are the ones that prosper.`

The study also showed that although there will be periods when no young are able to survive because the trees that make it to adulthood are so long-lived, the total numbers of adults in the forest as a whole does not fluctuate.

However, the cycles of seedling and sapling survival do leave their mark in the adult population. `There will be gaps in the ages of the adults to show the times when no young trees managed to make through the gauntlet of enemies and catastrophes,` adds Dr Kelly. `This process is called "storage" dynamics because the ability to recover from the bad years when the young trees don`t survive is "stored" in the reproductive ability of the standing adults.`

Sarah Watts | alphagalileo

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>