Tambopata of the Biodiversity
[tab: Description of the Tambopata Biodiversity Center]
Descriptions of the Tambopata Biodiversity Center
Why the Amazon Rainforest so rich in species diversity is rather a complex question and in fairness we can only offer to explain the incredible numbers of different life in Amazonia as no one can provide a definitive answer but here goes Plant form the basic structure of the rainforest (indeed most terrestrial ecosystems ) from the smallest herb to the (tallest emergent tree everything happens on in around under or above them.
The climate of Amazonia provides a perfect environment for plant growth no drought period of extreme just uninterrupted hot ,humid, rainy weather this in self is enough to justify a rich of life a hugely productive , fast growth environment encourages and extraordinary diversity of life from an evolutionary point of view the diversity of the rainforest comes about in a number of different ways .
One excellent example that illustrates how diversity arises through evolution is relationships between herbivorous insect and trees the climate of tropic no only ensures plants growth but also favors insect reproduction period to keep check on insect numbers you will find different insects to run riot and strips trees of their leave and rarely but rainforest trees have evolved complicate defense compounds to deter the myriad of insects that might her wise eat their leaves each family of plants ( sometimes each species ) rely on a different concoction of chemicals in their tissues varying amounts of different alkaloids, tannins, terpenoids and toxic amino acids deter herbivores as well as these chemical defenses, plants also use chemical deterrents such as spines her tiny hairs on the leaf surface , thorns on the bark, sticky latex in the trunk or even crystallized silicon, like tiny glass particles embedded in the woody parts of the tree , Some tree even use insect to protect themselves like having a colony of ants living in specially developed chambers at the leaf nodes or in their hollow trunk. Herbivorous organism that foolish enough to land in the host tree, it is a wonder then that herbivorous insects can eat any leaves at all, but they have evolved alongside their plant foods and have developed equally complex strategies to overcome these.
Defense compounds they do this by specializing in breaking down one set of defense compounds using enzymes that shatter the toxic molecules rendering them harmless and digestible, the enzymes that a particularly insect uses against certain toxins are no use against another species compounds and thus, that insect is restricted to feeding only on that species of tree , this acts as a selection pressure on that tree to evolve other defense compounds as a result the new compounds and or mechanisms may be different enough for the tree to evolve into a new species the insect left without a food source must in turn devolve new enzymes to cope with the tree is compounds and the evolutionary treadmill goes on In the rainforest when this process of specialization and selection pressure is repeated in millions of generations (some insect can go through twelve generations an year) over a period of one hundred million years the number of species of both herbivorous insects and trees inevitably increases.
The huge number of plant species in a tropical rainforest which the insects themselves helped to engender in turn creates an even larger opportunity for more insect species. Not just those that feed on the leaves but those that prey on the leaf-caters, or parasitize them, pollinate the flowers ,live under the bark , bore into the seeds or feed on the fruits of course this does not only apply to the insects( although they are by far the most numerous organisms in the rainforest), mammals , birds ,reptiles, amphibians and fish have an ever greater variety of food sources to exploit. Those that feed on the insectivores end herbivores diversity to exploit the ever increasing different prey items.
Evolution, as described by Darwin, is a wondrous thing and all their complex glory in the tropical rainforest how diverse is the rainforest numerous studies have been done in tambopata to determine how many species reside there for example, an entomologist, Edward Wilson, studied ants in the canopy and on one occasion found 43 different species living in a single tree.
This number is roughly equal to all the species of ants found in the British. Over 1200 species of butterfly have been found here a world record for the size of area studied the number of different bird species to be found any of the lodges in tambopata is about 600- there are only 700 species in the whole of North America only recently has the canopy of the rainforest been studied in any detail (mainly due to its inaccessibility) and since insects have been studied and collected from the branches, the estimated number of insect t species world-wide has soared from two to thirty million[tab: picture]
Tambopata Center Wildlife