Gradients in a Tropical Mountain Ecosystem of Ecuador

Volume 198 of the series Ecological Studies pp 15-23

Mountain Rain Forests in Southern Ecuador as a Hotspot of Biodiversity – Limited Knowledge and Diverging Patterns

  • G. BrehmAffiliated withInstitut für Spezielle Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie mit Phyletischen Museum, Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena
  • , J. HomeierAffiliated withPlant Ecology, Albrecht-von-Haller Institute for Plant Science, University of Göttingen
  • , K. FiedlerAffiliated withDepartment of Population Ecology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna
  • , I. KottkeAffiliated withSpezielle Botanik, Mykologie und Botanischer Garten, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen
  • , J. IlligAffiliated withInstitut für Zoologie, TU Darmstadt
  • , N. M. NöskeAffiliated withBotanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem, Free University of Berlin
  • , F. A. WernerAffiliated withDepartment of Systematic Botany, Albrecht von Haller Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Göttingen
  • , S. W. BreckleAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology, University of Bielefeld

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Highly complex ecosystems such as the tropical mountain rain forest in southern Ecuador probably harbor tens of thousands of species that interact with each other. It is impossible to understand an ecosystem without knowing the composition of its community. Such knowledge cannot be achieved without the examination of all major groups of animals, fungi, plants, and bacteria. For example, insects such as leaf beetles, ants, or hymenopteran and dipteran parasitoids have a high impact on forest ecosystems (Moutino et al. 2005; Soler et al. 2005), but have not been studied at the RBSF so far. The question of how many species there are on earth is still unresolved. Estimates range from four to 30 million species (e.g. Novotny et al. 2002). Ultimately, only counting and naming species can answer this question.