Articles

Diversity in Tropical Rain Forests and Coral Reefs

Science  24 Mar 1978:
Vol. 199, Issue 4335, pp. 1302-1310
DOI: 10.1126/science.199.4335.1302

Abstract

The commonly observed high diversity of trees in tropical rain forests and corals on tropical reefs is a nonequilibrium state which, if not disturbed further, will progress toward a low-diversity equilibrium community. This may not happen if gradual changes in climate favor different species. If equilibrium is reached, a lesser degree of diversity may be sustained by niche diversification or by a compensatory mortality that favors inferior competitors. However, tropical forests and reefs are subject to severe disturbances often enough that equilibrium may never be attained.

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