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.`
Sarah Watts | alphagalileo
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