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article imageStudy estimated abundance and diversity of Amazonian tree species

By Igor I. Solar     Oct 19, 2013 in Science
A large study in the Amazon Basin, which includes parts of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, among others, found that in this area there are approximately 390 billion trees belonging to about 16,000 different species.
A study by researchers, taxonomists and students from nearly 90 institutions worldwide, estimated the abundance, diversity and distribution of species of trees in the rainforest of the Amazon region. Most of the Amazon rainforest, which covers an area of 5,500,000 square kilometers, is in Brazil (60 percent), followed by Peru (13 percent), and Colombia (10 percent). The remaining 17 percent corresponds to areas of Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname and others.
The study estimated the number of trees in the Amazon basin in approximately 390 billion, belonging to some 16,000 different species. However, the researchers noted that almost half of the trees belong to only 227 species (1.4 percent of total).
The 227 species of trees that researchers identified as "hyperdominant" tend to specialize in certain habitats, limited to one or two types of forest, such as swamps or upland forests. Many species are deemed endangered and are poorly represented. In the worst cases, some 6,000 species have no more than 1000 specimens.
This finding means that the Amazon ecosystems, still considered among the richest and most diverse in the world, rely on a relatively small number of species. The details of the study, which by its extension is unprecedented, could contribute to future conservation efforts and policy-making.
The study entitled “Hyperdominance in the Amazonian Tree Flora” was published in the journal Science (Oct. 18, 2013).
More about Amazon rainforest, Brasil, Tree species, Biodiversity, Peru
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