An international team of researchers from the University of Leeds have discovered that Amazon forests with the greatest evolutionary diversity grow faster. The team studied the long term records of 90 plots from the Amazon Forest Inventory Network (RAINFOR) and ForestPlots.net to track the productivity of individual trees across the Amazon. By comparing these records with DNA sequence data – revealing evolutionary relationships between all the species – the team examined the links between growth rate and diversity. The results showed that the plots with the greatest evolutionary diversity grew a third faster than areas with less evolutionary diversity.
When studying bat pollination in the Caatinga region of Brazil, researcher Arthur Domingo de Melo discovered flowers that produce ‘sweet rain’. Hymenaea cangaceira is a flowering plant that produces so much pungent nectar from its ivory flowers that it overflows and drips down onto the forest floor below. This shower of nectar only happens after sunset during the reproductive season and is thought to entice bats close enough to be dusted with the plant pollen. Scientists believe that the ‘sweet rain’ is so nutritious, it enriches the soil below and keeps the trees healthy.
Using a form of fragmentation bomb, scientists from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich have come a step closer to discovering how volcanic lightning is formed. It was thought that the collision of ash particles was involved but the details eluded researchers. In a study published in the journal, Geophysical Research Letters, the research revealed that generally drier ash produces more lightning, however, outside of laboratory experiments, more factors could be at play.