Trees that keep social distance protect biodiversity

Scientists have explored the link between the “social distancing” of adult trees from their congeners and the biodiversity of tropical forests.

Data collected in the last 30 years from the forests of the Barro Colorado island in the Panama Canal, which researchers have studied frequently in the last century, showed that species diversity in tropical forests is ensured thanks to the trees’ “social distancing”.

The researchers found that when trees of the same species are located close together, they are damaged by pathogens such as fungi or herbivorous insects that affect the same species.

The research found that to keep damage to a minimum, its seeds sprout about 100 meters from the adult tree.

It was emphasized that trees that distance themselves from other individuals of their own species allow the seeds of other trees to grow in the spaces between them, thus paving the way for the forest to be enriched with different species.

“Thanks to the plethora of data on the forest we studied, we knew the exact location of each tree and how far the seeds had traveled,” said study co-author Michael Kalyuzhny. used the phrase.

“We asked the question, what would the forest look like if the seeds only grew from where they fell,” Kalyuzhny said. “In our computer model, we found that in the real forest, there is a much greater distance between the young trees sprouting from the seeds of adult trees,” Kalyuzhny said. said.

The results of the research were published in the journal “Science”.

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