Pathogens promote forest diversity

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Science  06 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6222, pp. 624-625
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6222.624-h

Environmental conditions affect the diversity of species, whether flora or fauna, in a particular habitat. But what keeps a tree that normally grows in a low-rainfall area from growing in a tropical forest? Spear et al. investigated this question by transplanting drought-resistant tree seedlings into wet forests. Although both wet-forest and drier-forest species suffered pathogen attacks, the damage and mortality associated with these attacks were worse in seedlings transplanted from drier forests. Together with the exclusion of wet-forest species from dry forests by drought, this result indicates that pathogens also promote and maintain the diversity of tree species in tropical forests.

J. Ecol. 103, 165 (2015).

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