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Consider recent findings:
James A. Estes, et. al. "Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth" Science, 15 July 2011.
Science, 15 July 2011:
"There is no evidence humanity,...has evolved an ecological sense.
"People began altering nature almost a million years ago."
the richest and most complex ecosystems on earth,...as well as the oldest, of them all.
On looking back, I feel that the forest represented a more striking spectacle than any other I have come across during my travels in almost one hundred countries....a dipterocarp forest is in a class of its own. ¶ 3
will not be the same for you again after setting eyes on something that
exceeds all your previous experience.
Still more important, it was the entire community of dipterocarps that impressed me, so many of these giants towering in one area.
400-700 trees per hectare [2.47 acres] these huge plants extending across Borneo for 1,000 kilometers, a greater quantity of impressive trees than anywhere else. Moreover, as a tree is more than just wood, so a forest is more than just trees. ¶ 5
A typical dipterocarp soars 50 meters, making it as tall as a twenty story building -- 50 to 100 ton trees! (Giant Sequoia is 1,000 tons) dipterocarp forests of southeast Asia cover an area of a million square kilometers. ¶ 7
they are an expression of plant life in a league of their own. 100-600 years old ¶ 8
a tropical rain forest amounts to a veritable dynamo for generating wood ¶ 9
meters [cu. m.] / hectare to 600 cu. m. / hectare up to 750 cu. m. / hectare
tree = any thing with a trunk of 4 or 10 centimeters ¶ 10
Chart from ¶ 11s data:
non-woody plants ¶ 12
epiphytes, including 1/4 of all the world's orchids are in Southeast Asia ¶ 13
lack of sunlight for thick undergrowth ¶ 14
canopy "So diverse is the world of the forest canopy that it can be considered the last great frontier of biology ¶ 15
relative ignorance of the biology of the forest canopy recent advances in frontier biology ¶ 16
diversity so great that only a few representatives in a whole hectare. ¶ 17
disappearance in the wild of the Malay begonia found only in 1940s ¶ 17
Corcovado NP, Costa Rica, 8 species of Heliconius butterflies ¶ 18
6 million square kilometers of the Amazon region ¶ 18
262 dipterocarp species in Borneo & only 15 in New Guinea; 1700 km eastward ¶ 19
Borneo, or Kalimantan as the Indonesians call it, has a greater diversity of dipterocarp species than does New Guinea, a very diverse island.
Borneo receives 5 meters of rainfall... throughout the year. [ 180 inches/ year. ]
Impact of the rain storm on the forest & 1/4 reaches the ground ¶21
This insulation of the forest interior, I surmised, must help to maintain the equable climate, with its stable warmth and moisture levels throughout the day and night. ¶ 22
Following the thunderstorm, the forest released a smell of earthly fertility. A musty odor, like that in a greenhouse, it was strangely satisfying even though it spoke of decomposition" [mixed metaphor?]
a forest is home to hosts of decomposers, notably organisms of the topsoil, such as mites, nematodes, ants, and termites. In one square meter of leaf litter... found 800 ants belonging to 50 species, while similar square meter may contain as many as 2,000 termites. ¶ 23
between 4 and 7 grams of soil fauna per square meter, an amount twice the like weight of all mammals and birds in the region put together. 1/3 to 1/2 termites
In Malaysia, half the biomass (living matter) of the 4 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelles of the Serengeti is made up of termites!
KEY: the topsoil contains multitudes of fungi, especially mycorrhizal fungi, ¶24
In other words the smell of the fungi and other decomposers is the smell of life. ¶ 24
In fact, leaf litter can decompose within six weeks compared to leaf litter decay rates one year in a temperate and 7 years in a boreal conifer forest. ¶ 25
contrast the danger / safety of the forest and the citys streets ¶ 26
we still know next to nothing about what makes a forest continue on its quiet, complex way. ¶ 27
we do not have a precise idea of just how much tropical forest still exists. ¶ 27
one of the few ways that really matter, through first-hand experience.... and through a process of imaginative osmosis that I find stirs within me whenever I am confronted with a major phenomenon of nature. ¶ 28
rather it is recreation in the sense of re-creation. ¶ 28
Threats to forests worldwide also come from: