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Topic+18.+Tropical+species+diversity - Topic 18 Tropical...

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Topic 18: Tropical Species Diversity I. History A. The enormous species diversity of the tropics first became apparent during the age of the great 19 th century naturalists: Darwin, Wallace, Bates (Batesian mimicry Topic 3 named after him) slides Bates spent eleven years on the Amazon and tributaries, living as a tramp, sending back specimens of everything for little pay. He collected 14,672 species of insects. Near Pará (Belém) he collected ≈700 species of butterflies alone, more than the entire number in Europe. II. What we know now – examples: A. Birds of North America slide B. Trees. Gentry found in one hectare in the Amazon basin 606 individuals comprising 300 species. Every other individual was a new species! III. But we don’t know how great tropical species diversity is, exactly. A. Beetles. Erwin studied the tree species Luehea seemannii in Panama. He found 1100 beetle species in its canopy. 160 beetle species were specific to that tree alone. 40% of all insects are beetles. There are 50,000 tree species in the tropics. So we can estimate 20+ million species of tropical insects (160 x 50000)/0.4. Only about 1.75 million species of animals and plants have been described as of today. So we have a way to go!
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IV. How to measure diversity?
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