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In the ecology of tropical forests, monodominance is the case where more than 50% of the canopy comprises a single species of tree.[1] (Connel and Lowman, two of the earliest to address this subject, called it single-dominance in their paper (Connel & Lowman 1989). Monodominance has since become the usual name.) Conventional explanations of biodiversity in tropical forests in the decades prior to Connel and Lowman's work either ignored monodominance entirely or predicted that it wouldn't exist.[2]

Connel and Lowman subdivided monodominance into two classes, according to whether the monodominant species persisted across multiple generations.[1] Explanations of persistent monodominace include such things as the monodominant species being more resistant than others to seasonal flooding, or that the monodominance is simply a sere.[2] With persistent monodominance, the monodominant species successfully remains so from generation to generation.[2][1]

Connel and Lowman originally hypothesized ectomycorrhizal association causing the replacement of other species as one of two mechanisms by which a species becomes persistently monodominant, the other being the simple colonization of large gaps. However, subsequent research over the years since (including Hart 1990, Read, Hallam & Cherrier 1995, Torti, Coley & Kursar 2001, and McGuire 2007 amongst others) has shown that there isn't a single, simple, mechanism by which monodominance happens. Monodominant species have been recorded forming at various times after forest clearance, and this has not been shown to be a predector of monodominant species persistence; and a reliance upon ectomycorrhizae and poor soils has not been demonstrated.[1]

Several causal mechanisms have been proposed for the formation of monodominant forest in tropical ecosystems,[3][4] including features of the environment such as low disturbance rates, and intrinsic characteristics of the dominant species—such as escape from herbivores, high seedling shade-tolerance, and the formation of mycorrhizal networks between individuals of the same species [5]



  1. ^ a b c d Prebble, Kennedy & Southern 2010, p. 231.
  2. ^ a b c Torti, Coley & Kursar 2001, p. 141.
  3. ^ Hart, T. 1990. Monospecific dominance in tropical rain forest. TREE 5(1) 6–11
  4. ^ Peh, K.S.H.; Lewis, S.L. and Lloyd, J. 2011. Mechanisms of monodominance in diverse tropical tree-dominated systems. Journal of Ecology: 891–898
  5. ^ McGuire, K. L. 2007. Common ectomycorrhizal networks may maintain monodominance in a tropical rain forest" Ecology 88(3) 567–574.


  • Prebble, Matthew; Kennedy, Jean; Southern, Wendy (2010). "Holocene lowland vegetation change and human ecology in Manus Province, Papua New Guinea". In Haberle, S.; Stevenson, J.; Prebble, M. Altered Ecologies: Fire, Climate and Human Influence on Terrestrial Landscapes. Terra Australis Series 32. ANU E Press. ISBN 9781921666803. 
  • Torti, Sylvia D.; Coley, Phyllis D.; Kursar, Thomas A. (February 2001). "Causes and Consequences of Monodominance in Tropical Lowland Forests". The American Naturalist 157 (2): 141–153. doi:10.1086/318629. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Connel, Joseph H.; Lowman, Margaret D. (1989). "Low diversity tropical rainforests: Some possible mechanisms for their existence.". The American Naturalist 134: 88–119. JSTOR 2462277. 
  • Hart, Terese (January 1990). "Monospecific dominance in tropical rain forests.". Trends in Ecology and Evolution (Elsevier Ltd) 5 (1): 6–11. doi:10.1016/0169-5347(90)90005-X. PMID 21232309. 
  • Read, Jennifer; Hallam, Patricia; Cherrier, Jean-François (1995). "The anomaly of monodominant tropical rainforests: some preliminary observations in the Nothofagus-dominated rainforests of New Caledonia". Journal of Tropical Ecology (Cambridge University Press) 11 (03): 359–389. doi:10.1017/s026646740000883x. 
  • Torti, Sylvia D.; Coley, Phyllis D. (June 1999). "Tropical Monodominance: A Preliminary Test of the Ectomycorrhizal Hypothesis". Biotropica (The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation) 31 (2): 220–228. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.1999.tb00134.x. JSTOR 2663785. 
  • Gross, Nicole D.; Torti, Sylvia D.; Feener Jr., Donald H.; Coley, Phyllis D. (September 2000). "Monodominance in an African Rain Forest: Is Reduced Herbivory Important?". Biotropica (The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation) 32 (3): 430–439. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2000.tb00490.x. JSTOR 2663876. 
  • McGuire, K. L. (2007). "Recruitment dynamics and ectomycorrhizal colonization of Dicymbe corymbosa, a monodominant tree in the Guiana Shield". Journal of Tropical Ecology 23 (3): 297–307. doi:10.1017/s0266467406003968. 
  • Peh, Kelvin S.-H.; Lewis, Simon L.; Lloyd, Jon (July 2011). "Mechanisms of monodominance in diverse tropical tree-dominated systems". Journal of Ecology (British Ecological Society) 99 (4): 891–898. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2011.01827.x. 
  • Peh, Kelvin S.-H.; Sonké, B.; Lloyd, J.; Quesada, C.A.; Lewis, Simon L. (2011). "Soil Does Not Explain Monodominance in a Central African Tropical Forest.". PLoS ONE 6 (2): e16996. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016996.