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Tropische Biodiversitat: Befunde und offene Probleme

Tropical hiodiversity: facts and unsolved problems

Please always quote using this URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-78302
  • During the past 50 to over 100 million years communities evolved in the tropics which attained unprecedented levels of biodiversity, strikingly represented by evergreen lowland rain forests offering home to more than 50% of all the world's extant species. Within only some 30 years human action reduced the area covered with tropical rain forests to about half of its former size, thereby negatively affecting local and global functions of the biosphere and exterminating an unknown number of species. With an exponentially increasing rate we areDuring the past 50 to over 100 million years communities evolved in the tropics which attained unprecedented levels of biodiversity, strikingly represented by evergreen lowland rain forests offering home to more than 50% of all the world's extant species. Within only some 30 years human action reduced the area covered with tropical rain forests to about half of its former size, thereby negatively affecting local and global functions of the biosphere and exterminating an unknown number of species. With an exponentially increasing rate we are throwing away our and all future generations' biological heritage. We destroy the most complicated, scientifically most interesting living systems before we have gained any knowledge of their structures ,and dynamics. To understand the particular structures and dynamics of tropical communities means in the first place to understand the causes and consequences of their ten- to more than hundredfold higher alphadiversity (as compared to temperate systems). This problem has a historical dimension and a functional side requiring answers as to the nature of the proximate mechanisms of its maintenance. My review is only concerned with the latter aspect, and its maIn emphasis is on the gaps in our knowledge. Two sets of hypotheses have been developed for explaining the high within-commUnIty diversity. (1) According to the classical concept interspecific niche competition and subsequent niche separation are the main forces determining the structure of the community. These so-called equilibrium models have been contrasted in recent times with (2) non-equilibrium models. These models do not attribute the decisive role to interspecific competition. Strong niche overlaps are presumed to be very common within species-rich communities. Continuous stochastic local disturbances are assumed to prevent the achievement of any long-term equilibrium (climax) state. Being on the right spot at the right time is regarded as most important. Whether oneor a combination of both models provide the best key for understanding the structure of a special section within a community will certainly depend on many properties of the species at debate (mobility, disr.ersal, fertility etc.). For the vast majority of tropical organisms all such information is at present unavailable. The principles governing the structure of communities is just one of the very ,basic open problems. Another very prominent question is how the qualitatively very rich, however quantitatively poor resources are distributed among the members of highly diverse guilds of consumers and decomposers. Does the scarcity rather favour generalists or specialists, are small species overrepresented, are resources more extensively used than in temperate communities? One important property is fairly well established: Populations of most tropical species seem to be very small. Since a) in very many' cases distribution range is obviously very limited, since b) predator pressure is generally assumed to be higher in the tropics and c) recent - perhaps unduely generalized - results claim abundance fluctuations in the tropics fully comparable in their dimensions to those in the temperate zone, the question arises as to how these small populations can persist for seemingly long periods of time and avoid rapid extinction. Additionally treated PoInts concern detritivore communities, plant animal Interactions, key stone groups. Saving biodiversity in general and the tropical species and community richness in particular is one of the most urgent tasks of our generation, and biologists have to play a still more prominent role in this extremely important endeavor than they have in the past decades.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author: Karl Eduard Linsenmair
URN:urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-78302
Document Type:Journal article
Faculties:Fakultät für Biologie / Theodor-Boveri-Institut für Biowissenschaften
Language:German
Year of Completion:1990
Source:In: Verhandlungen der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft (1990), 83, S. 245 - 261.
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 59 Tiere (Zoologie) / 590 Tiere (Zoologie)
GND Keyword:Zoologie
Release Date:2013/06/07
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht