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Latest Center for Tropical Forest Science Stories

History, Not Ecology, Makes Rainforests Unique
2011-09-23 08:39:48

  History and geology, not current ecology, are likely what has made tropical forests so variable from site to site, according to a new study published in the journal Science, co-authored by Liza Comita, research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. "The same ecological processes seem to be working worldwide. The difference is that tropical organisms have been accumulating for vast periods of time," said Nathan J.B. Kraft, post-doctoral fellow at the...

2011-02-14 15:11:48

A million-dollar question Sleeping Beauty's kingdom was overgrown by vines when she fell into a deep sleep. Researchers at the Smithsonian in Panama and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee received more than a million dollars from the U.S. National Science Foundation to discover why real vines are overtaking the American tropics. Data from eight sites show that vines are overgrowing trees in all cases. "We are witnessing a fundamental structural change in the physical make-up of forests...

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2010-06-27 13:26:23

Home to jaguars, harpy eagles and red-eyed tree frogs, tropical forests support some of the rarest species on the planet and are the most biodiverse ecosystems on land. Understanding why some species are common while others are exceedingly rare has been a challenge in these mega-diverse forests. New results from a massive study at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute show that interactions among community members play an important role in determining which organisms thrive. "Based on...

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2010-02-16 11:51:20

Plants and people alike face critical choices as they reproduce: to make a few big, well-provisioned seeds"”or babies--or many small, poorly-provisioned ones. Different species make strikingly different choices, resulting in a great diversity of life forms: Darwin's "endless forms most beautiful. Helene Muller-Landau, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute argues that these diverse strategies coexist because different levels of stress favor different choices. "I...

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2008-10-25 12:20:00

Trees in a hyper-diverse tropical rainforest interact with each other and their environment to create and maintain diversity, researchers report in the Oct. 24 issue of the journal Science. This study was conducted in the Yasuni forest dynamics plot of the Pontificia Universidad Cat³lica del Ecuador, the most diverse tropical forest site associated with the Center for Tropical Forest Science/Smithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatory network (CTFS/SIGEO). It is difficult to...

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2008-08-14 15:38:59

Common tree species in the Amazon will survive even grim scenarios of deforestation and road-building, but rare trees could suffer extinction rates of up to 50 percent, predict Smithsonian scientists and colleagues in the Aug. 12 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. How resilient will natural systems prove to be as they weather the next several decades of severe, human-induced global change? The debate is on between proponents of models that maximize and...


Word of the Day
mundungus
  • A stinking tobacco.
  • Offal; waste animal product; organic matter unfit for consumption.
This word comes from the Spanish 'mondongo,' tripe, entrails.