These findings have significant implications related to the sustainability and conservation of these globally-important areas.
Michigan State University scientist Anthony Cognato and graduate student Jiri Hulcr were part of an international team that conducted this groundbreaking research, the results of which are described in the Aug.ust 9 online issue of the journal Nature. The group included scientists from Australia, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, New Guinea and the United States.
“Tropical rain forests are home to a rich diversity of plants, birds, insects and other animals,” said Hulcr, an entomology PhD doctoral student working with Cognato and co-author of the report. “They also play an important role in our global climate and provide aesthetic, recreational and medicinal benefits. For these reasons and others, it is critical that we understand how these forests generate and sustain their diversity and what we can do to help conserve them.”
The study included approximately 500 species of caterpillars, beetles and fruitfliesfruit flies from common plant-eating families and 175 species from four diverse plant groups across 28,950 square miles of contiguous lowland rain forest in Paupua, New Guinea.
Cognato and Hulcr were key collaborators on the project because of their expertise related to the biology and ecology of the bark and ambrosia beetle family, a model group of insects compoprised of 6,000 species worldwide, and one common to tropical rain forests.
“What we found was that the composition of the community of beetles does not change with distance as long as the environment is stable,” Cognato said. “Even communities hundreds of miles apart are the same. And if there are differences, they seem to be random and not caused by any environmental change.”
Study findings were similar for the butterfly and fruit fly species examined in the study.
“Such knowledge is critical to understanding the roles of ecological processes in maintaining tropical diversity, predicting species extinction and designing the systems of protected natural areas,” Hulcr said. “Because diversity doesn’t necessarily increase with distance, but animals in small reserves
tend to go extinct, you should plan for one large area instead of having a lot of small and distant areas to manage and conserve.”
Cognato and Hulcr expect similar patterns in other tropical lowland rain forests, as they are typically situated in the extensive low basins of major rivers comparable to the study area in New Guinea. They are currently conducting research in other areas of the tropics – including Borneo, Ecuador, Guyana, Ghana and Thailand – to confirm the New Guinea findings.
“If we want the stability of these forests, especially given how much they are threatened now, we need to understand how to best set up conservation areas,” said Cognato said. “And it’s not just about the flashy species; it’s about the whole thing.”
“This and additional research will allow conservation managers and policy makers to base decisions on data rather than on theory so that we can preserve as much diversity as possible,” Hulcr said. “We are excited to be part of the ongoing, international effort to add to the extensive data necessary for the understanding, analysis and conservation of complex tropical forest ecosystems.”
Jiri Hulcr | EurekAlert!
Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz
Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences
23.02.2017 | Life Sciences