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    Author(s): J. W. Ferry Slik; Victor Arroyo-Rodriguez; Shin-Ichiro and others Aiba
    Date: 2015
    Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: International Institute of Tropical Forestry
    PDF: View PDF  (755.91 KB)


    The high species richness of tropical forests has long been recognized, yet there remains substantial uncertainty regarding the actual number of tropical tree species. Using a pantropical tree inventory database from closed canopy forests, consisting of 657,630 trees belonging to 11,371 species, we use a fitted value of Fishers alpha and an approximate pantropical stem total to estimate the minimum number of tropical forest tree species to fall between ~40,000 and ~53,000, i.e., at the high end of previous estimates. Contrary to common assumption, the Indo-Pacific region was found to be as species-rich as the Neotropics, with both regions having a minimum of ~19,000–25,000 tree species. Continental Africa is relatively depauperate with a minimum of ~4,500–6,000 tree species. Very few species are shared among the African, American, and the Indo-Pacific regions. We provide a methodological framework for estimating species richness in trees that may help refine species richness estimates of tree-dependent taxa.

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Slik, J. W. Ferry; Arroyo-Rodriguez, Victor; Aiba, Shin-Ichiro and others. 2015. An estimate of the number of tropical tree species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: 201423147-.


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    diversity estimation, Fisher’s log series, pantropical, spatial richness patterns, tropical tree species richness

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