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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
November 22, 2014

Canadian Excellence

Maintenance of habitat specialization in tropical trees



Location: Sepilok Forest Reserve, Malaysian Borneo

Collaborators: SC Thomas, R Nilus


40-60% of tree species in tropical rain forests show strong habitat associations, and much of this can be explained by edaphic factors. We used a combination of survey studies and reciprocal transplant experiments to test the hypothesis that resource-use efficiency is a main mechanism driving these patterns. Our results suggest that genetically-based differences in long-term water-use are a primary mechanism maintaining edaphic specialization and that metabolic costs associated with these differences have important implications on the shade tolerance of species associated with each forest type. We are currently examining the role of phosphorous and leaf trait trade-offs in patterns of habitat specialization.

Related Publications: Baltzer et al. (2005) Ecology 86: 3063; Baltzer & Thomas (2007) Journal of Ecology 95: 1205; Baltzer & Thomas (2010) PLoS ONE 5: e13163.