Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 12, Issue 11, pp 2255-2277

First online:

A spatial model of tree α-diversity and tree density for the Amazon

  • Hans Ter Steege
  • , Nigel Pitman
  • , Daniel Sabatier
  • , Hernan Castellanos
  • , Peter Van Der Hout
  • , Douglas C. Daly
  • , Marcos Silveira
  • , Oliver Phillips
  • , Rodolfo Vasquez
    • , Tinde Van Andel
    • , Joost Duivenvoorden
    • , Alexandre Adalardo De Oliveira
    • , Renske Ek
    • , Ramesh Lilwah
    • , Raquel Thomas
    • , Jessica Van Essen
    • , Claudia Baider
    • , Paul Maas
    • , Scott Mori
    • , John Terborgh
    • , Percy NúÑez Vargas
    • , Hugo Mogollón
    • , Wilfried Morawetz

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Large-scale patterns of Amazonian biodiversity have until now been obscured by a sparse and scattered inventory record. Here we present the first comprehensive spatial model of tree α-diversity and tree density in Amazonian rainforests, based on the largest-yet compilation of forest inventories and bolstered by a spatial interpolation technique that allows us to estimate diversity and density in areas that have never been inventoried. These data were then compared to continent-wide patterns of rainfall seasonality. We find that dry season length, while only weakly correlated with average tree α-diversity, is a strong predictor of tree density and of maximum tree α-diversity. The most diverse forests for any given DSL are concentrated in a narrow latitudinal band just south of the equator, while the least diverse forests for any given DSL are found in the Guayana Shield and Amazonian Bolivia. Denser forests are more diverse than sparser forests, even when we used a measure of diversity that corrects for sample size. We propose that rainfall seasonality regulates tree α-diversity and tree density by affecting shade tolerance and subsequently the number of different functional types of trees that can persist in an area.

Amazon Guayana Shield Kriging Planning inventories Quantile regression Tree α-diversity Tree density