Seasonal drought, soil fertility and the species density of tropical forest plant communities

Trends in Ecology & Evolution
S J Wright


Recent comparisons of plant species densities in tropical forest make it possible to evaluate factors that govern species richness. Contrary to earlier predictions, plant species densities are not greater on soils of relatively low fertility. In fact, the opposite trend is often observed, although the relationship between species densities and soil fertility is highly variable. However, tropical forest plant species densities consistently increase with rainfall. Species coexistence in wetter tropical forests may be facilitated by the absence of competition for moisture combined with year-round pest pressure and low understory light levels, which reduce growth rates and the potential for competition for other resources.


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