OPEN Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | 20 Sep 2017
D Cardoso, T Särkinen, S Alexander, AM Amorim, V Bittrich, M Celis, DC Daly, P Fiaschi, VA Funk, LL Giacomin, R Goldenberg, G Heiden, J Iganci, CL Kelloff, S Knapp, H Cavalcante de Lima, AFP Machado, RM Dos Santos, R Mello-Silva, FA Michelangeli, J Mitchell, P Moonlight, PLR de Moraes, SA Mori, TS Nunes, TD Pennington, JR Pirani, GT Prance, LP de Queiroz, A Rapini, R Riina, CAV Rincon, N Roque, G Shimizu, M Sobral, JR Stehmann, WD Stevens, CM Taylor, M Trovó, C van den Berg, H van der Werff, PL Viana, CE Zartman and RC Forzza
Recent debates on the number of plant species in the vast lowland rain forests of the Amazon have been based largely on model estimates, neglecting published checklists based on verified voucher data. Here we collate taxonomically verified checklists to present a list of seed plant species from lowland Amazon rain forests. Our list comprises 14,003 species, of which 6,727 are trees. These figures are similar to estimates derived from nonparametric ecological models, but they contrast strongly with predictions of much higher tree diversity derived from parametric models. Based on the known proportion of tree species in neotropical lowland rain forest communities as measured in complete plot censuses, and on overall estimates of seed plant diversity in Brazil and in the neotropics in general, it is more likely that tree diversity in the Amazon is closer to the lower estimates derived from nonparametric models. Much remains unknown about Amazonian plant diversity, but this taxonomically verified dataset provides a valid starting point for macroecological and evolutionary studies aimed at understanding the origin, evolution, and ecology of the exceptional biodiversity of Amazonian forests.
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