Despite western Amazonian forests being one of the most diverse tree communities on Earth, their diversity has been exceptionally disproportionate among these communities.
A small amount of dominant species account for the majority of individuals while the large majority of species are unusual to find in the local and regional areas. Even though dominant species share a small contribution to local species richness (alpha diversity), they incorporate an importance in structuring patterns of beta diversity – the ratio between regional and local species.
Researchers from the International Center for Tropical Botany, among others, are using a network of 207 forest inventory plots while exploring the role of dominant species in determining regional patterns of beta diversity (community-level floristic turnover and distance-decay relationships) across a range of habitat types in northern lowland Peru.
Overall, they discovered that dominant species are normally common in a single forest type, playing a crucial role in structuring western Amazonian tree communities. Dominant species are also responsible for designing effective protected areas, and are the root towards understanding the factors of beta diversity patterns.
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This study was supported through a joint project between the Carnegie Institution for Science and the International Center for Tropical Botany at Florida International University.