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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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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.