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Tropical Forest Community Ecology

Tropical Forest Community Ecology

Walter Carson (Editor), Stefan Schnitzer (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-405-18952-1 September 2008 Wiley-Blackwell 536 Pages


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Historically, tropical ecology has been a science often content with descriptive and demographic approaches, which is understandable given the difficulty of studying these ecosystems and the need for basic demographic information. Nonetheless, over the last several years, tropical ecologists have begun to test more sophisticated ecological theory and are now beginning to address a broad array of questions that are of particular importance to tropical systems, and ecology in general. Why are there are so many species in tropical forests and what mechanisms are responsible for the maintenance of that vast species diversity? What factors control species coexistence? Are there common patterns of species abundance and distribution across broad geographic scales? What is the role of trophic interactions in these complex ecosystems? How can these fragile ecosystems be conserved?

Containing contributions from some of the world’s leading tropical ecologists, Tropical Forest Community Ecology provides a summary of the key issues in the discipline of tropical ecology:

  • Includes contributions from some of the world’s leading tropical ecologists
  • Covers patterns of species distribution, the maintenance of species diversity, the community ecology of tropical animals, forest regeneration and conservation of tropical ecosystems
Preface. Walter P. Carson and Stefan A. Schnitzer.

Foreword. S. Joseph Wright.

List of Contributors.


1 Scope of the Book and Key Contributions. Stefan A. Schnitzer and Walter P. Carson.


2 Spatial Variation in Tree Species Composition Across Tropical Forests: Pattern and Process. Jérôme Chave.

3 The Disparity in Tree Species Richness among Tropical, Temperate, and Boreal Biomes: The Geographic Area and Age Hypothesis. Paul V.A. Fine, Richard H. Ree, and Robyn J. Burnham.

4 Explaining Geographic Range Size by Species Age: A Test Using Neotropical Piper Species. John R. Paul and Stephen J. Tonsor.

5 Patterns of Herbivory and Defense in Tropical Dry and Rain Forests. Rodolfo Dirzo and Karina Boege.

6 Ecological Organization, Biogeography, and the Phylogenetic Structure of Tropical Forest Tree Communities. Campbell O.Webb, Charles H. Cannon, and Stuart J. Davies.

7 Large Tropical Forest Dynamics Plots: Testing Explanations for the Maintenance of Species Diversity. Jess K. Zimmerman, Jill Thompson, and Nicholas Brokaw.


8 Tropical Forest Ecology: Sterile or Virgin for Theoreticians? Egbert G. Leigh, Jr.

9 Approaching Ecological Complexity from the Perspective of Symmetric Neutral Theory. Stephen P. Hubbell.

10 Functional Basis for Resource Niche Partitioning by Tropical Trees. Kaoru Kitajima and Lourens Poorter.

11 Colonization-related Trade-offs in Tropical Forests and Their Role in the Maintenance of Plant Species Diversity. Helene C. Muller-Landau.

12 Treefall Gaps and the Maintenance of Plant Species Diversity in Tropical Forests. Stefan A. Schnitzer, Joseph Mascaro, and Walter P. Carson.

13 Challenges Associated with Testing and Falsifying the Janzen–Connell Hypothesis: A Review and Critique. Walter P. Carson, Jill T. Anderson, Egbert G. Leigh, Jr, and Stefan A. Schnitzer.

14 Seed Limitation and the Coexistence of Pioneer Tree Species. James W. Dalling and Robert John.

15 Endophytic Fungi: Hidden Components of Tropical Community Ecology. A. Elizabeth Arnold.


16 Tropical Tritrophic Interactions: Nasty Hosts and Ubiquitous Cascades. Lee A. Dyer.

17 Variation in Tree Seedling and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal Spore Responses to the Exclusion of Terrestrial Vertebrates: Implications for How Vertebrates Structure Tropical Communities. Tad C. Theimer and Catherine A. Gehring.

18 Ecosystem Decay in Closed Forest Fragments. John Terborgh and Kenneth Feeley.

19 Resource Limitation of Insular Animals: Causes and Consequences. Gregory H. Adler.

20 Tropical Arboreal Ants: Linking Nutrition to Roles in Rainforest Ecosystems. Diane W. Davidson and Steven C. Cook.

21 Soil Fertility and Arboreal Mammal Biomass in Tropical Forests. Carlos A. Peres.


22 Processes Constraining Woody Species Succession on Abandoned Pastures in the Tropics: On the Relevance of Temperate Models of Succession. Chris J. Peterson and Walter P. Carson.

23 Chance and Determinism in Tropical Forest Succession. Robin L. Chazdon.

24 Exotic Plant Invasions in Tropical Forests: Patterns and Hypotheses. Julie S. Denslow and Saara J. DeWalt.


25 Linking Insights from Ecological Research with Bioprospecting to Promote Conservation, Enhance Research Capacity, and Provide Economic Uses of Biodiversity. Thomas A. Kursar, Todd L. Capson, Luis Cubilla-Rios, Daniel A. Emmen, William Gerwick, Mahabir P. Gupta, Maria V. Heller, Kerry McPhail, Eduardo Ortega-Barría, Dora I. Quiros, Luz I. Romero, Pablo N. Solis, and Phyllis D. Coley.

26 Tropical Rainforest Conservation: A Global Perspective. Richard T. Corlett and Richard B. Primack.

27 Environmental Promise and Peril in the Amazon. William F. Laurance.

28 Contributions of Ecologists to Tropical Forest Conservation. Francis E. Putz and Pieter A. Zuidema.


"Undoubtedly, this book needs to be on the shelves of every scientist committed to disentangling the complexity veiled by the grandeur of tropical forests. Nonetheless, we believe that it will also provide inspiration to landscape ecologists who focus their research in other regions of the Earth." (Landscape Ecol, 2011)

"Whilst it will not be an easy book especially for those uncomfortable with mathematical formulae, it does provide a valuable insight into a key biome in the world, and at a reasonable price for a substantial volume.” (Experimental Agriculture , July 2009)

Tropical Forest Community Ecology may turn out to be the elegy for rainforest ecology, or it may be the harbinger of things to come. Only time will tell, but meanwhile there is much work to be done, and Tropical Forest Community Ecology provides useful directions.” (Ecology, 2009)

"The recent advances in data collection and theory described in this volume have made the past decade one of the most exciting and important periods in the study of tropical forests. Carson and Schnitzer and the many contributing authors capture this excitement and the tectonic shifts that are underway in this new book. If you intend to buy only one book on tropical forest ecology in the next 20 years, buy this one. It is, simply put, outstanding." (Annals of Botany, July 2009)

  • Provides a summary of the key issues in the discipline of tropical ecology
  • Includes contributions from some of the world’s leading tropical ecologists
  • Covers patterns of species distribution, the maintenance of species diversity, the community ecology of tropical animals, forest regeneration and conservation of tropical ecosystems