Spatial aspects of biodiversity important for healthy forests

by the National Science Foundation
June 30, 2022

Biologists at Washington University in St. Louis have determined that tree beta diversity — a measure of site-to-site variation in the composition of species in an area — matters more for ecosystem functioning than other components of biodiversity at larger scales.  

The research also shows that the relationship between beta diversity and tree biomass strengthens with increasing spatial scale, or the size of an area, a finding that has implications for conservation planning. The study was published in the journal Ecology. 

The U.S. National Science Foundation-supported research was conducted by Jacqueline Reu, Christopher Catano and Jonathan Myers of Washington University

The data were collected as part of a large-scale forest ecology project. More than 60 undergraduate students, high school students and research technicians surveyed more than 30,000 trees for the project. 

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Read the Ecology paper: