What is it about?

We find that tree species in many forests worldwide interact with each other in many different ways. The size and rate of growth of one species can influence the numbers and rates of recruitment and mortality of other species. The method presented in this paper, which we continue to refine, allows us to measure these interactions. The interactions can lead to the maintenance of tree species diversity in these complex ecosystems. They show the important and continuing role played by natural selection in the living world.

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Why is it important?

Understanding the mechanisms behind these interactions will allow us to identify the species that play central roles in the health of ecosystems. Our method allows us to identify the species pairs that will repay further research into this important component of ecosystem health.


In this work I have been able to draw on my own knowledge of genetics and evolution and my many interactions with forest ecologists around the world. See my forthcoming book: "Earth's Evoloutionary Cauldrons," to be published by Oxford University Press in 2023.

Christopher Wills
University of California San Diego

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This page is a summary of: Interactions between all pairs of neighboring trees in 16 forests worldwide reveal details of unique ecological processes in each forest, and provide windows into their evolutionary histories, PLoS Computational Biology, April 2021, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008853.
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