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Home Publications Tropical Tree Seed Manual Chapter 7: Ecological Life Histories

Chapter 7: Ecological Life Histories

Our review of the literature uncovered two complementary lines of life-history research in tropical forests. One approach is demographic, with a strict focus on individual species (Alvarez-Buylla and others 1996, Hubbell and Foster 1990, McCormick 1995, Silvertown and others 1993). This research can either be comprehensive, based on a population; or fragmented, focused on one or several aspects of the life cycle of a single tree. A second line of research is successional; it focuses on community function and aims to understand the role of tree populations in succession (Bazzaz and Pickett 1980, Clark and Clark 1992, Ewel 1980, Gómez-Pompa and Vázquez-Yanes 1974, Richards 1964). Although demographic techniques are used, this research selects groupings of species with the objective of cataloging functional groups according to their role in succession. In our review, we first place ecological life-history research on tropical trees in context with life-history studies in other plant groups, and then present life-history information according to various lines of research. We end with a review of ecological life- history research in forests that are subjected to large and infrequent disturbances, water limitation, and other ecological stressors. Our objective is to present the paradigms of ecological life-history research for tropical trees and, where possible, propose improvements to these paradigms based on experience in the Caribbean. Throughout the review, we highlight research needs to support improved life-history models for tropical trees.

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Author(s): Ariel E. Lugo, Jess K. Zimmerman

Publication: Tropical Tree Seed Manual

Section: Chapter 7