Why Are Most Of The World's Species Tropical?

879 words - 4 pages

Why are most of the world’s species tropical? Provide a detailed analysis of the latitudinal gradient in species richness.
Latitudinal gradients in species diversity have been recognized for over a century (Wallace 1878). The cause of these gradients has been the subject of debate since then. This has produced several theories and hypotheses about what factors are dependent in the regulation of diversity (Pianka 1966). Nowadays theories think about many factors such as competition, disturbance (natural and human disturbance) fragmentation, invasion and many others. It is difficult to test the separate causes and to test them individually and also to make hypotheses including all of them. ...view middle of the document...

The summertime only lasts six to eight weeks. In the winter it is dark most of the time, and even in the summer it is usually cloudy and overcast; therefore plants get little sunlight. There is also a low amount of rainfall because it is cold. Even though some organisms have adapted to living in such harsh environments there are considerably more species in the tropics.
The reason for there being so many species in the tropics is a combination of factors. Firstly organisms can live well there due to the extra energy that this part of earth receives. Also secondly it is due to isolation and islandation which promotes evolution into new species by sexual selection. For example, Darwin and his Galapagos finches. There were there are thirteen species of Darwin's finch, a small sparrow-like bird, each species has evolved depending on the type of food that it feeds on. This is shown by the different beak shapes. These birds all had a common ancestor and must have been isolated from each other. This has eventually produced thirteen different types of one bird. This could be how many of the species arose. In the rainforests isolation can be due to a river or possibly a fallen tree. This would result in many patches of species all over the tropics.
All of these plant species makes it difficult for animals. Animals can evolve to only eat of one exact species of plant or not eat plants at all. Tropical plants are not only those widely recognized crops that are limited to production in the tropics, such as bananas, cacao, coconuts, coffee, oil palm, rubber, and sugarcane but those...

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