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Biodiversity in the tropical rainforest

Explaining the biological hyperdiversity of tropical rainforest using the Tree of Life 

Tropical rainforests are home to approximately half of the world’s species, despite only covering 7-10% of the world’s terrestrial surface. At the same time, the tropical rainforest is one of the ecosystems that are most negatively affected by human activities and Global Change. Every year, large swathes of rainforest are being cleared or burned before science has even had a chance to describe or explain their biological diversity.

TropiTol aims to explain the species richness of tropical rainforest by investigating the evolution of rainforest plants. We use genome sequencing and modern analytical techniques to infer the Tree of Life, and analyse it together with large geographic datasets to answer fundamental questions like these:

  1. Is tropical rainforest a biological “cradle” with frequent origination of new species, or a biological “museum” within which species persist for long periods of time?
  2. What role does the age of the rainforest ecosystem play for its biological richness?
  3. Do new rainforest species originate primarily within rainforest, or does immigration from other ecosystems contribute significantly to the hyperdiversity of rainforests.

TropiToL is supported by VILLUM Fonden 2019-2024.