A Magic Web: The Forest of Barro Colorado Island by Egbert G. Leigh

By Egbert G. Leigh

The tropical woodland of Panama's Barro Colorado Island is a luxuriant neighborhood of crops and animals, pulsating with lifestyles and delivering an wonderful view of nature's myriad techniques. What does the woodland appear like? How do the actions of this forest's crops and animals create a neighborhood? Now, in A Magic net, photographer Christian Ziegler and ecologist Egbert Leigh invite readers to go into the really good international of Barro Colorado Island. This ebook presents a different mix of the astounding images of a picture-book and transparent, authoritative textual content written via an lively scientist who has spent part an entire life attempting to comprehend tropical forests. the images supply perspectives of the wooded area and its remarkable range of population, and express a few of the actions that provide the woodland its personality and lend constitution to its group. Drawing on a long time of labor on Barro Colorado Island, Egbert Leigh explains how the woodland works. the images and textual content show the numerous methods its crops and animals compete with but in addition depend upon one another: the contrasts among solitary cats and intricately prepared armies of ants; different methods vegetation fight for a spot within the solar, and the methods those vegetation allure, or cultivate, animals to pollinate their plant life. ultimately, the authors express why this, and via implication all different, tropical forests topic to the folks who reside close to them and to the area at huge, what we will study from those forests, and the way they range from temperate-zone forests. jam-packed with beautiful full-color photos observed via transparent and available textual content, A Magic internet is a needs to for an individual making plans to go to a tropical woodland, and for all those that in simple terms want they can.

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In business, the incompatibility, the trade-off, between keeping fares low and offering reliable, luxurious service means that two airlines flying the same routes can coexist if one attracts passengers who wish to travel cheaply, the other, passengers preferring comfort or insistent upon arriving on time. In the plant world, the abundant photosynthetic machinery a plant needs to take full advantage of bright light is incompatible with the need of deeply shaded plants to minimize maintenance costs by keeping only enough of this machinery to use the scarce light available.

Canopy trees create a habitat for shade-tolerant understory trees and herbs. Canopy trees also provide supports on which lianas (woody vines) can climb and epiphytes, plants that grow on other plants, can sit to place their leaves in the sun. When trees die, their wood and leaves feed a host of fungi (fig. 17), bacteria, and even animals, the decomposers that live on dead matter and release its mineral nutrients for reuse by other plants. Dead matter is usually found in deep shade or even the airless dark: organisms that decompose dead matter rarely get enough light to combine water and carbon dioxide into sugar.

In short, it appears that natural tropical forests have so many kinds of trees because each is kept rare by the pests that are specialized to it. Are warmer winters really what enhance pest pressure in the tropics? About fifty-four million years ago, the average annual temperature in southern Wyoming rose by 7 degrees Celsius, making the winters frost free. Wellpreserved fossil leaves have been found from soon before and soon after the warming. Peter Wilf and Conrad Labandeira, of the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum, learned from these fossils that, after the warming, insect damage to the leaves was greater, as was the diversity of insect pests per plant species, even though plant diversity had also increased after the warming.

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