Why some rainforests are becoming shorter than they were decades ago
12th April 2016 / Katherine Ellen Foley
Scientists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico looked at almost four decades of data from the reserve and found that the shorter palm trees have been taking over, and continue to block the growth of taller trees.
Rainforests, including reserves like the Los Tuxlas Tropical Field Station where the study was conducted, need a balance of short and tall trees to support the other plants and animals that live in the area. However, José Sarukhán, a biologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and lead author of the study, and his team noticed that from 1975 to 2013, the number of short palms almost quadrupled in number.
Researchers suspect that the problem stems from multiple causes. First, deforestation: Trees with leaves and branches that occupied the canopy of the rainforest—the upper-most level—were suddenly missing.