`Live fast, die young` strategy could be behind Amazon`s high tree diversity

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - 15:09

London: Scientists suggest that a "live fast, die young" life history strategy could have been a key factor behind today`s high tree diversity in the Amazon.

The researchers hope that the findings will shed light on why some groups of trees in the biodiversity hotspot contain hundreds of species.

An estimated 16,000 tree species - about 30 percent of the recorded total worldwide - are found in the Amazon.
Co-author Tim Baker from the University of Leeds said that one of the big questions about understanding the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest is why have we got a range of groups of trees that contain so many species.

The international team of scientists said that the diversity was a result of "an interaction between extrinsic factors - historical events that have caused extinctions or provided opportunities for speciation - and the intrinsic characteristics of different lineages that have influenced how they responded to these events".

Dr Baker told a news website News that the breakthrough came when the team found a characteristic that was shared by all of the groups.
He said that they all seem to share a life history strategy where they live fast and die young. They have short generation times so they are able to pump through the generations very fast.

He added that this strategy links together different lineages of Amazonian trees that all have very high numbers of species within them.

The findings are published in the journal Ecology Letters.


First Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - 15:09

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