Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

European grasslands challenge rainforests as the most species-rich spaces on Earth

Date:
March 15, 2012
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
The city of Manila holds the human world record for the most densely populated space and now an international team of ecologists are seeking the natural equivalent, the most species rich area on earth. The team's findings reveal the record is contested between South America's tropical rainforests and Central European meadows.

The city of Manila holds the human world record for the most densely populated space and now an international team of ecologists are seeking the natural equivalent, the most species rich area on earth. The team's findings, published in the Journal of Vegetation Science, reveal the record is contested between South America's tropical rainforests and Central European meadows.

"The coexistence of large numbers of species in one space and the questions it raises have long fascinated ecologists," said Professor Bastow Wilson, from the University of Otago, New Zealand. "For example it's a core ecological principle that two species occupying the same niche cannot co-exist long-term, so how can 942 plant species co-exist in one hectare of tropical rainforest?"

While tropical rainforests of South America and Central Africa are often believed to be the most species rich areas on Earth, Professor Wilson's team sought to establish if this is true, especially if smaller spatial scales are analysed.

"We surveyed the global literature to find records of plant species richness at scales from 1 mm² up to 1 hectare. Above 50 m², all the maximum values were from tropical rainforests in Costa Rica, Columbia or Ecuador," said Wilson. "However, looking at smaller scales we have found that long-grazed or mown grasslands are the most species rich places on Earth."

These very rich grasslands were found in the eastern half of Europe, from the German border through to Romania, although two examples were also found in Argentina. Most were over limestone, and two were from wooded meadow, a landscape once common over northern Europe but now very rare.

Using these data the team asked if there is a theoretical maximum for the number of species which can co-exist in one area. They extrapolated the relationship up to 1 hectare, predicting the number of plant species over the whole earth.

"Any scientific hypothesis should be tested in a new situation, and the strongest test is extrapolation, even if school teachers warn their pupils not to do it," concluded Wilson. "This left us with a predicted number of 219,204 species, remarkably close to the latest estimate of the world's vascular flora at 275,000 species."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "European grasslands challenge rainforests as the most species-rich spaces on Earth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120315225743.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2012, March 15). European grasslands challenge rainforests as the most species-rich spaces on Earth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120315225743.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "European grasslands challenge rainforests as the most species-rich spaces on Earth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120315225743.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The incentive is in keeping with a Russian superstition that it's good luck for a cat to be the first to cross the threshold of a new home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins