Tree Diversity in Tropical Rain Forests: A Validation of the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis

  title={Tree Diversity in Tropical Rain Forests: A Validation of the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis},
  author={Jean-François Molino and Daniel Sabatier},
  pages={1702 - 1704}
The “intermediate disturbance hypothesis,” which postulates maximum diversity at intermediate regimes of disturbance, has never been clearly proved to apply to species-rich tropical forest tree communities and to local-scale canopy disturbances that modify light environments. This hypothesis was tested on a sample of 17,000 trees in a Guianan forest, 10 years after a silvicultural experiment that added to natural treefall gaps a wide range of disturbance intensities. Species richness… 

The intermediate disturbance hypothesis applies to tropical forests, but disturbance contributes little to tree diversity.

An unprecedented large-scale dataset is used to examine whether IDH explains tree diversity variation within wet, moist and dry tropical forests, and the underlying mechanism is analysed by determining responses within functional species groups.

Regional boreal biodiversity peaks at intermediate human disturbance.

It is shown for the first time that across a broad region species richness peaked in communities with intermediate anthropogenic disturbance, as predicted by intermediate disturbance hypothesis, even when accounting for many environmental covariates.

Responses of tree populations and forest composition to selective logging in Guyana.

Tropical rainforests in Guyana are characterised by small-scale disturbance regimes. As a result, tree communities are dominated by shade-tolerant climax species that are adapted to these low and

Response of tree species diversity to disturbance in humid tropical forests of Borneo

The meta-analysis found that the intermediate disturbance hypothesis (IDH) pattern varies depending on rainfall regime within tropical biomes; a clearer unimodal pattern occurs with decreasing rainfall.

Disturbance Regimes Drive The Diversity of Regional Floristic Pools Across Guianan Rainforest Landscapes

Significant relationships between the disturbance indicator, tree-species diversity and soil phosphorus content agree with the hypothesis that rainforest diversity is controlled both by disturbance regimes and long-term ecosystem stability, and suggest that including geomorphological stratifications in climate-vegetation models may be an effective way to improve the prediction of changes in species diversity under climate change.

Consistent, small effects of treefall disturbances on the composition and diversity of four Amazonian forests

This study demonstrates that variation in the functional composition of Amazonian forests does not lead to large differences in the response of these forests to treefall disturbances, and overall, these events have a minor role in maintaining the diversity of these ecosystems.

Patterns of tree diversity in response to logging in Algonquin Provincial Park

The acceleration of human disturbance on natural systems necessitates the understanding of the effects of disturbance on species diversity, in order to mitigate its impacts. The Intermediate



Light-Gap disturbances, recruitment limitation, and tree diversity in a neotropical forest

Strong recruitment limitation appears to decouple the gap disturbance regime from control of tree diversity in this tropical forest, where the species composition of gaps was unpredictable even for pioneer tree species.

Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs.

  • J. Connell
  • Environmental Science, Economics
  • 1978
The commonly observed high diversity of trees in tropical rain forests and corals on tropical reefs is a nonequilibrium state which, if not disturbed further, will progress toward a low-diversity

Different Respones to Gaps Among Shade‐Tollerant Tree Species

It is proposed that the ability to tolerate shade allows a range of responses to disturbances that are qualitatively different from those of intolerant species.

Tropical Tree Richness and Resource-Based Niches

In assessing the role of treefall gaps in maintaining species richness in a tropical forest, S. P. Hubbell et al . ([1][1]) provide a test of the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, which predicts

Niche versus chance and tree diversity in forest gaps.

  • BrokawBusing
  • Environmental Science
    Trends in ecology & evolution
  • 2000

Research in large, long-term tropical forest plots.

  • R. Condit
  • Environmental Science
    Trends in ecology & evolution
  • 1995


The impact of a 25-year drying trend and an associated increase in the severity of the 4-month dry season is having an obvious impact on the BCI forest, which is remarkably sensitive to a subtle climatic shift.

An analysis of the floristic composition and diversity of Amazonian forests including those of the Guiana Shield

A large number of newly published and unpublished hectare plots in Amazonia and the Guiana Shield area allow an analysis of family composition and testing of hypotheses concerning alpha-diversity in


The results provide support for the view that within each tree community, many species have their abundance and distribution guided more by random drift than deterministic interactions and demonstrate that diversity studies based on different stem diameters can be compared by sampling identical numbers of stems.