Richard Condit, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis
Peter Ashton, Harvard University
Sarayudh Bunyavejchewin, National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Thailand
H. S. Dattaraja, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Stuart Davies, Harvard University
Shameema Esufali, University of Peradeniya
Corneille Ewango, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Robin Foster, Field Museum of Natural History
I. A.U.N. Gunatilleke, University of Peradeniya
C. V.S. Gunatilleke, University of Peradeniya
Pamela Hall, Florida State University
Kyle E. Harms, Louisiana State University
Terese Hart, Wildlife Conservation Society
Consuelo Hernandez, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador
Stephen Hubbell, University of Georgia
Akira Itoh, Osaka City University
Somboon Kiratiprayoon, Thammasat University
James LaFrankie, National Institute of Education
Suzanne Loo De Lao, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Jean Remy Makana, Wildlife Conservation Society
Md Nur Supardi Noor, Forest Research Institute Malaysia
Abdul Rahman Kassim, Forest Research Institute Malaysia
Sabrina Russo, Harvard University
Raman Sukumar, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Cristián Samper, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Hebbalalu S. Suresh, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Sylvester Tan, Forest Research Centre - Sandakan
Sean Thomas, University of Toronto
Renato Valencia, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador
Martha Vallejo, Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, Bogota
Gorky Villa, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador
Tommaso Zillio, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

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Most ecological hypotheses about species coexistence hinge on species differences, but quantifying trait differences across species in diverse communities is often unfeasible. We examined the variation of demographic traits using a global tropical forest data set covering 4500 species in 10 large-scale tree inventories. With a hierarchical Bayesian approach, we quantified the distribution Of mortality and growth rates of all tree species at each site. This allowed us to test the prediction that demographic differences facilitate species richness, as suggested by the theory that a tradeoff between high growth and high survival allows species to coexist. Contrary to the prediction, the most diverse forests had the least demographic variation. Although demographic differences may foster coexistence, they do not explain any of the 16-fold variation in tree species richness observed across the tropics.

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