Nigel C A Pitman

Nigel C A Pitman
Field Museum of Natural History · Science & Education

PhD

About

274
Publications
225,723
Reads
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23,844
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2014 - present
Field Museum of Natural History
Position
  • Mellon Senior Conservation Ecologist
July 2013 - present
Field Museum of Natural History
Position
  • Visiting Scientist
November 2003 - December 2008
Amazon Conservation Association
Amazon Conservation Association
Position
  • Science Director
Education
August 1995 - April 2000
Duke University
Field of study
  • Biology
August 1988 - April 1993
Princeton University
Field of study
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Publications

Publications (274)
Article
This paper revisits various hypotheses about oligarchic patterns in Amazonian tree communities put forward by Pitman et al. (2001). Together, these hypotheses predict that most lowland sites in the Amazon are located within large patches of relatively homogeneous edaphic and other environmental conditions, where an oligarchy of common, frequent tre...
Article
Full-text available
Research to date on Amazonian swamps has reinforced the impression that tree communities there are dominated by a small, morphologically specialized subset of the regional flora capable of surviving physiologically challenging conditions. In this paper, using data from a large-scale tree inventory in upland, floodplain, and mixed palm swamp forests...
Article
Full-text available
Estimates of extinction risk for Amazonian plant and animal species are rare and not often incorporated into land-use policy and conservation planning. We overlay spatial distribution models with historical and projected deforestation to show that at least 36% and up to 57% of all Amazonian tree species are likely to qualify as globally threatened...
Article
Full-text available
Amazonia is the most biodiverse rainforest on Earth, and the debate over how many tree species grow there remains contentious. Here we provide a checklist of all tree species collected to date, and describe spatial and temporal trends in data accumulation. We report 530,025 unique collections of trees in Amazonia, dating between 1707 and 2015, for...
Book
Full-text available
In Colombia’s Amazonian department of Caquetá, two grand rivers meander through a vast lowland forest plain nestled between the Andes to the west and the Chiribiquete uplift to the east. One is the largest river in the Colombian Amazon, the Caquetá, and the other one of its primary tributaries, the Caguán. Unreachable by road from the rest of the c...
Article
Full-text available
Tree diversity and composition in Amazonia are known to be strongly determined by the water supplied by precipitation. Nevertheless, within the same climatic regime, water availability is modulated by local topography and soil characteristics (hereafter referred to as local hydrological conditions), varying from saturated and poorly drained to well...
Article
Water availability is the major driver of tropical forest structure and dynamics. Most research has focused on the impacts of climatic water availability, whereas remarkably little is known about the influence of water table depth and excess soil water on forest processes. Nevertheless, given that plants take up water from the soil, the impacts of...
Article
Full-text available
We report the rediscovery of the Critically Endangered cloud forest herb Gasteranthus extinctus , not seen since 1985. In 2019 and 2021, G. extinctus was recorded at five sites in the western foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes, 4–25 km from the type locality at the celebrated Centinela ridge. We describe the species’ distribution, abundance, habitat...
Article
Significance The extent to which pre-Columbian societies in Amazonia occupied and significantly altered the tierra firme (nonflooded, nonriverine) forest environment is an enduring question and the subject of a current debate. Our research addresses these issues in tierra firme forests of northeastern Peru. We present phytolith and charcoal data in...
Article
Full-text available
Field photographs of plant species are crucial for research and conservation, but the lack of a centralized database makes them difficult to locate. We surveyed 25 online databases of field photographs and found that they harboured only about 53% of the approximately 125,000 vascular plant species of the Americas. These results reflect the urg...
Article
Full-text available
Environmental and dispersal filters are key determinants of species distributions of Amazonian tree communities. However, a comprehensive analysis of the role of environmental and dispersal filters is needed to understand the ecological and evolutionary processes that drive phylogenetic and taxonomic turnover of Amazonian tree communities. We compa...
Article
Full-text available
Field photographs of plant species are crucial for research and conservation, but the lack of a centralized database makes them difficult to locate. We surveyed 25 online databases of field photographs and found that they harboured only about 53% of the approximately 125,000 vascular plant species of the Americas. These results reflect the urgent n...
Article
Full-text available
Meeting international commitments to protect 17% of terrestrial ecosystems worldwide will require >3 million square kilometers of new protected areas and strategies to create those areas in a way that respects local communities and land use. In 2000–2016, biological and social scientists worked to increase the protected proportion of Peru’s largest...
Article
Full-text available
The forests of Amazonia are among the most biodiverse plant communities on Earth. Given the immediate threats posed by climate and land-use change, an improved understanding of how this extraordinary biodiversity is spatially organized is urgently required to develop effective conservation strategies. Most Amazonian tree species are extremely rare...
Article
Aim Here we examine the functional profile of regional tree species pools across the latitudinal distribution of Neotropical moist forests, and test trait–climate relationships among local communities. We expected opportunistic strategies (acquisitive traits, small seeds) to be overrepresented in species pools further from the equator, but also in...
Article
Tropical forests are the most diverse and productive ecosystems on Earth. While better understanding of these forests is critical for our collective future, until quite recently efforts to measure and monitor them have been largely disconnected. Networking is essential to discover the answers to questions that transcend borders and the horizons of...
Preprint
Full-text available
In a time of rapid global change, the question of what determines patterns in species abundance distribution remains a priority for understanding the complex dynamics of ecosystems. The constrained maximization of information entropy provides a framework for the understanding of such complex systems dynamics by a quantitative analysis of important...
Article
The forests of Amazonia are among the most biodiverse plant communities on Earth. Given the immediate threats posed by climate and land-use change, an improved understanding of how this extraordinary biodiversity is spatially organized is urgently required to develop effective conservation strategies. Most Amazonian tree species are extremely rare...
Article
Full-text available
A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20537-x
Article
Meeting international commitments to protect 17% of terrestrial ecosystems worldwide will require >3 million square kilometers of new protected areas and strategies to create those areas in a way that respects local communities and land use. In 2000–2016, biological and social scientists worked to increase the protected proportion of Peru’s largest...
Article
Full-text available
The carbon sink capacity of tropical forests is substantially affected by tree mortality. However, the main drivers of tropical tree death remain largely unknown. Here we present a pan-Amazonian assessment of how and why trees die, analysing over 120,000 trees representing > 3800 species from 189 long-term RAINFOR forest plots. While tree mortality...
Article
Full-text available
The carbon sink capacity of tropical forests is substantially affected by tree mortality. However, the main drivers of tropical tree death remain largely unknown. Here we present a pan-Amazonian assessment of how and why trees die, analysing over 120,000 trees representing > 3800 species from 189 long-term RAINFOR forest plots. While tree mortality...
Article
Full-text available
A Amazônia é a floresta tropical de maior biodiversidade na Terra, entretanto o debate sobre o número de espécies arbóreas nela presentes permanece controverso. Neste estudo, oferecemos uma lista de todas as espécies arbóreas coletadas até o momento, bem como a descrição de tendências espaciais e temporais na acumulação dos dados. Relatamos 530.025...
Article
Full-text available
The carbon sink capacity of tropical forests is substantially affected by tree mortality. However, the main drivers of tropical tree death remain largely unknown. Here we present a pan-Amazonian assessment of how and why trees die, analysing over 120,000 trees representing > 3800 species from 189 long-term RAINFOR forest plots. While tree mortality...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Palms are an iconic, diverse and often abundant component of tropical ecosystems that provide many ecosystem services. Being monocots, tree palms are evolutionarily, morphologically and physiologically distinct from other trees, and these differences have important consequences for ecosystem services (e.g., carbon sequestration and storage) and...
Article
Full-text available
Aim: Palms are an iconic, diverse and often abundant component of tropical ecosystems that provide many ecosystem services. Being monocots, tree palms are evolutionarily, morphologically and physiologically distinct from other trees, and these differences have important consequences for ecosystem services (e.g., carbon sequestration and storage) an...
Article
Full-text available
Amazonian forests are extraordinarily diverse, but the estimated species richness is very much debated. Here, we apply an ensemble of parametric estimators and a novel technique that includes conspecific spatial aggregation to an extended database of forest plots with up-to-date taxonomy. We show that the species abundance distribution of Amazonia...
Article
Full-text available
Amazonian forests are extraordinarily diverse, but the estimated species richness is very much debated. Here, we apply an ensemble of parametric estimators and a novel technique that includes conspecific spatial aggregation to an extended database of forest plots with up-to-date taxonomy. We show that the species abundance distribution of Amazonia...
Article
Full-text available
Amazonian forests are extraordinarily diverse, but the estimated species richness is very much debated. Here, we apply an ensemble of parametric estimators and a novel technique that includes conspecific spatial aggregation to an extended database of forest plots with up-to-date taxonomy. We show that the species abundance distribution of Amazonia...
Article
Amazonian forests are extraordinarily diverse, but the estimated species richness is very much debated. Here, we apply an ensemble of parametric estimators and a novel technique that includes conspecific spatial aggregation to an extended database of forest plots with up-to-date taxonomy. We show that the species abundance distribution of Amazonia...
Article
Full-text available
Amazonian forests are extraordinarily diverse, but the estimated species richness is very much debated. Here, we apply an ensemble of parametric estimators and a novel technique that includes conspecific spatial aggregation to an extended database of forest plots with up-to-date taxonomy. We show that the species abundance distribution of Amazonia...
Article
Full-text available
The sensitivity of tropical forest carbon to climate is a key uncertainty in predicting global climate change. Although short-term drying and warming are known to affect forests, it is unknown if such effects translate into long-term responses. Here, we analyze 590 permanent plots measured across the tropics to derive the equilibrium climate contro...
Article
The sensitivity of tropical forest carbon to climate is a key uncertainty in predicting global climate change. Although short-term drying and warming are known to affect forests, it is unknown if such effects translate into long-term responses. Here, we analyze 590 permanent plots measured across the tropics to derive the equilibrium climate contro...
Article
Full-text available
Competition among trees is an important driver of community structure and dynamics in tropical forests. Neighboring trees may impact an individual tree’s growth rate and probability of mortality, but large‐scale geographic and environmental variation in these competitive effects has yet to be evaluated across the tropical forest biome. We quantifie...
Article
Full-text available
Amazonian forests are extraordinarily diverse, but the estimated species richness is very much debated. Here, we apply an ensemble of parametric estimators and a novel technique that includes conspecific spatial aggregation to an extended database of forest plots with up-to-date taxonomy. We show that the species abundance distribution of Amazonia...
Article
Full-text available
Higher levels of taxonomic and evolutionary diversity are expected to maximize ecosystem function, yet their relative importance in driving variation in ecosystem function at large scales in diverse forests is unknown. Using 90 inventory plots across intact, lowland, terra firme, Amazonian forests and a new phylogeny including 526 angiosperm genera...
Article
Full-text available
Higher levels of taxonomic and evolutionary diversity are expected to maximize ecosystem function, yet their relative importance in driving variation in ecosystem function at large scales in diverse forests is unknown. Using 90 inventory plots across intact, lowland, terra firme, Amazonian forests and a new phylogeny including 526 angiosperm genera...
Article
Full-text available
The origin of modern disjunct plant distributions in the Brazilian Highlands with strong floristic affinities to distant montane rainforests of isolated mountaintops in the northeast and northern Amazonia and the Guyana Shield remains unknown. We tested the hypothesis that these unexplained biogeographical patterns reflect former ecosystem rearrang...
Article
The origin of modern disjunct plant distributions in the Brazilian Highlands with strong floristic affinities to distant montane rainforests of isolated mountaintops in the northeast and northern Amazonia and the Guyana Shield remains unknown. We tested the hypothesis that these unexplained biogeographical patterns reflect former ecosystem rearrang...
Data
Se presenta una lista de especies de árboles de la Amazonía ecuatoriana, revisada taxonómicamente, que es el resultado de 20 años de inventarios florísticos y revisiones de especímenes en los herbarios ecuatorianos. Los resultados determinaron que hay 2296 especies de árboles, el 90% de estas especies se encuentran actualmente en la lista de No Eva...
Article
Full-text available
Durante el período 2000 – 2016, se llevaron a cabo 15 inventarios biológicos en áreas remotas en el pie de monte andino y el llano amazónico del Perú. En estos inventarios, 27 botánicos colectaron un total de 9397 especímenes de plantas vasculares fértiles. Hasta finales del 2017, más de la mitad de estos especímenes se han identificado a nivel de...
Research
Full-text available
Scientific Framework to Save the Amazon By Scientists of the Amazon Countries and Global Partners September 30, 2019 We, the scientists who study and monitor the Amazon rainforest, appeal to the reason and conscience of humankind. The Amazon, the largest rainforest in the world, is at great risk of destruction, and with it the well-being of our ge...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical forests are known for their high diversity. Yet, forest patches do occur in the tropics where a single tree species is dominant. Such “monodominant” forests are known from all of the main tropical regions. For Amazonia, we sampled the occurrence of monodominance in a massive, basin-wide database of forest-inventory plots from the Amazon Tr...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical forests are known for their high diversity. Yet, forest patches do occur in the tropics where a single tree species is dominant. Such “monodominant” forests are known from all of the main tropical regions. For Amazonia, we sampled the occurrence of monodominance in a massive, basin-wide database of forest-inventory plots from the Amazon Tr...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical forests are known for their high diversity. Yet, forest patches do occur in the tropics where a single tree species is dominant. Such “monodominant” forests are known from all of the main tropical regions. For Amazonia, we sampled the occurrence of monodominance in a massive, basin-wide database of forest-inventory plots from the Amazon Tr...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical forests are known for their high diversity. Yet, forest patches do occur in the tropics where a single tree species is dominant. Such “monodominant” forests are known from all of the main tropical regions. For Amazonia, we sampled the occurrence of monodominance in a massive, basin-wide database of forest-inventory plots from the Amazon Tr...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical forests are known for their high diversity. Yet, forest patches do occur in the tropics where a single tree species is dominant. Such “monodominant” forests are known from all of the main tropical regions. For Amazonia, we sampled the occurrence of monodominance in a massive, basin-wide database of forest-inventory plots from the Amazon Tr...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical forests are known for their high diversity. Yet, forest patches do occur in the tropics where a single tree species is dominant. Such “monodominant” forests are known from all of the main tropical regions. For Amazonia, we sampled the occurrence of monodominance in a massive, basin-wide database of forest-inventory plots from the Amazon Tr...
Article
Tropical forests are known for their high diversity. Yet, forest patches do occur in the tropics where a single tree species is dominant. Such "monodominant" forests are known from all of the main tropical regions. For Amazonia, we sampled the occurrence of monodominance in a massive, basin-wide database of forest-inventory plots from the Amazon Tr...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical forests are known for their high diversity. Yet, forest patches do occur in the tropics where a single tree species is dominant. Such "monodominant" forests are known from all of the main tropical regions. For Amazonia, we sampled the occurrence of monodominance in a massive, basin-wide database of forest-inventory plots from the Amazon Tr...
Article
Full-text available
We compiled a data set for all tree species collected to date in lowland Amazonian Ecuador in order to determine the number of tree species in the region. This data set has been extensively verified by taxonomists and is the most comprehensive attempt to evaluate the tree diversity in one of the richest species regions of the Amazon. We used four m...
Article
Full-text available
Inga kursarii is a new species collected in the terra firme forests of the northwestern Amazon, one of the regions with the highest tree species diversity in the world. According to morphological and phylogenetic analyses, the new species is morphologically similar and sister to Inga gracilifolia Ducke, but it can be distinguished by having 5-6 pai...
Article
Full-text available
Neutral models are often used as null models, testing the relative importance of niche versus neutral processes in shaping diversity. Most versions, however, focus only on regional scale predictions and neglect local level contributions. Recently, a new formulation of spatial neutral theory was published showing an incompatibility between regional...