Tropical Forests

Tree diversity benefits light capture

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Science  10 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6206, pp. 205-206
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6206.205-b

Higher plant diversity in ecosystems often benefits ecological processes such as nutrient cycling and rates of growth. To better understand how such improvements might work in tropical forests, Sapijajankas et al. set up experimental plantations in Panama using seedlings of native tree species and varied the number of species in the plots. Eight years later, they measured light penetrating through the tree canopy and found that plots with six species captured more light and grew taller than those with three species or only one. The researchers linked these effects to changes in tree structure at the different levels of diversity and to differences in seasonal growth patterns of the trees.

Ecology 95, 2479 (2014).

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