Savannas are not old fields: functional trajectories of forest expansion in a fire-suppressed Brazilian savanna are driven by habitat generalists

Flake, Samuel; Abreu, Rodolfo; Durigan, Giselda; Hoffman, William Savannas cover much of the tropics, but with widespread fire suppression, forests have begun to encroach on formerly species-rich old-growth savannas. The replacement of savannas by forests has large impacts on ecosystem function, associated with changes in the traits of the trees and shrubs present – their size, resistance to fire, ability to capture light, and their … Continue reading Savannas are not old fields: functional trajectories of forest expansion in a fire-suppressed Brazilian savanna are driven by habitat generalists

High respiration in needle-leaved conifers may explain their absence from tropical forests

Schmiege, Stephanie; Buckley, Brendan; Stevenson, Dennis; Heskel, Mary; Cuong, Truong; Nam, Le; Griffin, Kevin Conifers are the longest-lived plant species and tolerate some of the harshest conditions in the world.  Comprised of approximately 600 species, this group of plants can be divided into eight plant families that have different global distributions.  Pines (Pinaceae) are found almost entirely in the northern hemisphere, whereas podocarps (Podocarpaceae) are … Continue reading High respiration in needle-leaved conifers may explain their absence from tropical forests

A branch from the tree Virola multiflora in the canopy of the Bosque Protector San Lorenzo in Panama. This branch was accessed via a ~50 m tall canopy crane operated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). Credit José A. Medina-Vega.

Lianas explore the forest canopy more effectively than trees under drier conditions

José A. Medina-Vega, Frans Bongers, Stefan A. Schnitzer and Frank J. Sterck Lianas (woody vines) play a vital role in the dynamics of tropical forests. Lianas compete intensely with trees for above (i.e. light) and below-ground (i.e. water and nutrients) resources and reduce the regeneration, growth, reproduction and survival of trees. The most prominent difference between lianas and trees is that lianas do not invest … Continue reading Lianas explore the forest canopy more effectively than trees under drier conditions

Rare forest species possess larger within-species trait variation and smaller environmental ranges

Xiangcheng Mi, Zhenghua Sun, Yunfeng Song, Xiaojuan Liu, Jie Yang, Junjie Wu, Xiuqin Ci, Jie Li, Luxiang Lin, Min Cao, Keping Ma One of the most ubiquitous patterns in community ecology is that the majority of species in local communities are rare. Understanding the mechanisms underlying this pattern has challenged ecologists for decades. The niche partitioning hypothesis proposes that rare species use spatially limited and … Continue reading Rare forest species possess larger within-species trait variation and smaller environmental ranges