PerspectiveEcology

Species-Area Relations in Tropical Forests

Science  15 Dec 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5499, pp. 2084-2086
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5499.2084

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Summary

A power law called the species-area relationship describes the finding that the number of species is proportional to the size of the area in which they are found, raised to an exponent (usually, a number between 0.2 and 0.3). In their Perspective, May and Stumpf discuss new results from a survey of five tropical forest census areas containing a total of a million trees. They explain how this large data set can be used to fine-tune the existing power law so that it provides a better prediction of species diversity in small census samples.