The high species richness of tropical forests has long been recognized, yet there remains substantial uncertainty regarding the actual number of tropical tree species. Using a pantropical tree inventory database from closed canopy forests, consisting of 657,630 trees belonging to 11,371 species, we use a fitted value of Fisher’s alpha and an approximate pantropical stem total to estimate the minimum number of tropical forest tree species to fall between ~40,000 and ~53,000, i.e., at the high end of previous estimates. Contrary to common assumption, the Indo-Pacific region was found to be as species-rich as the Neotropics, with both regions having a minimum of ~19,000–25,000 tree species. Continental Africa is relatively depauperate with a minimum of ~4,500–6,000 tree species. Very few species are shared among the African, American, and the Indo-Pacific regions. We provide a methodological framework for estimating species richness in trees that may help refine species richness estimates of tree-dependent taxa.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|
- abundance distributions
- plant diversity
- global patterns
Slik, J. W. F., Bongers, F., Jansen, P. A., Parren, M. P. E., Poorter, L., Tchouto, M. G. P., & Venticinque, E. M. (2015). An estimate of the number of tropical tree species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(24), 7472-7477. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1423147112