The Brazil-nut family is an important clade of trees in Neotropical forests, with at least 230 species and a center of diversity in the Amazon basin. The family includes the Brazil nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa) and other important timber and ornamental species, as well as a disproportionate number of hyperdominant species in Amazon forests. These hyperdominant species, such as Eschweilera coriacea, are found in both flooded and terra firme habitats and contribute disproportionately to tree numbers and biomass in Amazon rainforest.

In this talk I use the Lecythidaceae as a model system to address some key questions about Amazon tree diversity. Where did the main lineages of the family originate? How have local ecological communities assembled geographically? What explains the hyperdominance of some Lecythidaceae species? This work is based on recent phylogenomic analyses. I will also present recent work on the demography of Lecythidaceae that may inform sustainable logging efforts in the Central Amazon region.


Lecythidaceae, Amazon, rainforest, systematics, phylogeny, demography, conservation, trees, biogeography

Christopher Dick, Oscar Vargas, Tamara Milton, Drew Larson, Alberto Vicentini

Presentation within symposium:

S-37 Biological diversification in the Andean-Amazon region

The Brazil nut family, Lecythidaceae, as a window into historical assembly, ecological dominance and conservation of Amazon tree communities.