Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sunlight in tropical forest driving force behind ecological niches of tree species

28.11.2011
Not water, but sunlight is the main factor in determining the growth of the hundreds of tree species in tropical forests.

The variation in physiological characteristics between tree species explains how the various species fit into their ecological niches, thereby contributing to diversity in tropical forests. This is the conclusion drawn by researchers from Wageningen University, part of Wageningen UR, and their colleagues from Utrecht University in a publication in the scientific journal PNAS.

Tropical forests are able to sustain hundreds of tree species on just a few hectares, but little is known about how this diversity has evolved. A study carried out by Frank Sterck, Lourens Poorter and Lars Markesteijn (Wageningen University) and Feike Schieving (Utrecht University) shows that the species examined all responded differently to variations in the availability of light and water because they had different physiological characteristics. Most of the species occupied a unique niche where they do better than the other species, which may contribute to the co-existence of these species and the diversity of the forest.

As part of the study, the researchers measured a range of physiological properties such as leaf surface area, wood density, photosynthesis capacity, leaf water potentials and resistance to water transport in tropical tree species from a Bolivian forest. They used a physiological plant model to calculate the speed at which the various species can grow when exposed to different combinations of water and light. The simulations show that variations in leaf production and photosynthesis capacity enable species to specialise for a variety of light niches. The sensitivity of stoma to drought in the various species (and therefore the water consumption) also varies, but this does not lead to trees becoming specialised for dry or moist locations in the same forest.

The researchers conclude that even in relatively dry tropical forests, light is the driving force behind niche specialisation in tree types. This makes sunlight more important than water in terms of whether different trees grow side-by-side or not.

This is one of the first studies for which physiological plant models have been used to scale up plant characteristics to the growth and survival of various tree species in order to explain the wealth of species in a tropical forest. In future, these models will also be used to look into the distribution of plant species along climate gradients.

http://www.wageningenuniversity.nl/UK/newsagenda/news/P093eForesttrees_.htm

Jac Niessen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.wur.nl

Further reports about: ecological niche leaf production sunlight tree species tropical forest

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

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”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

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...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>