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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: The Most Common Tree in the Amazon
17 October 2013 2:00 pm
The Amazon remains a mystery to botanists, who haven't known how many kinds of trees live in the extremely diverse forests or even what species is most common. Turns out, it's a slender palm called Euterpe precatoria. After counting up tree species from 1170 research sites studied by hundreds of scientists, a team extrapolated the number likely to exist across the entire region. They estimate that Amazonia has about 16,000 species of trees (although they admit the statistical model has some problems, such as not accounting for environmental preferences of various species). Remarkably, half of all the trees belong to only 227 species that dominate in various regions, probably because they resist diseases and herbivores, such as insects. Others may have been planted by humans before Europeans arrived. Many species—11,000—are extremely rare, accounting for a mere 0.12% of trees. Half of these are probably rare enough to be considered globally threatened and may go extinct before they are discovered.