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Drought limits tropical plant distributions, scientists at the Smithsonian report

led out several other potential predictors of plant distribution that could be associated with drought tolerance, such as shade tolerance and nutrient availability.

Identifying drought tolerance as a cause of plant distribution patterns significantly advances the understanding of tropical plant diversity and implies that changes in rainfall patternsa predicted consequence of climate change in the tropicsmay give rise to dramatic changes in tropical plant communities.

"In the tropics, climate change does not just mean temperature changedramatic shifts in rainfall patterns also are expected to occur," said Ben Turner, STRI staff scientist and co-author. "Our research shows that changes in rainfall patterns will have considerable consequences for tropical forests."


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Contact: Beth King
kingb@si.edu
703-787-3770 ext 8216
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
2-May-2007


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