Christopher Wills, Division of Biological Sciences
Kyle E. Harms, Louisiana State University
Richard Condit, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
David King, Harvard University
Jill Thompson, University of Puerto Rico, Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies
Fangliang He, University of Alberta
Helene C. Muller-Landau, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Peter Ashton, Harvard University
Elizabeth Losos, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Liza Comita, University of Georgia
Stephen Hubbell, University of Georgia
James LaFrankie, National Institute of Education
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
Robin Foster, Field Museum of Natural History
Nimal Gunatilleke, University of Peradeniya
Savitri Gunatilleke, University of Peradeniya
Pamela Hall, Florida State University
Akira Itoh, Osaka City University
Robert John, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Somboon Kiratiprayoon, Thammasat University
Suzanne Loo De Lao, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Marie Massa, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Cheryl Nath, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Md Nur Supardi Noor, Forest Research Institute Malaysia
Abdul Rahman Kassim, Forest Research Institute Malaysia
Raman Sukumar, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Hebbalalu Satyanarayana Suresh, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
I. Fang Sun, Center for Tropical Ecology and Biodiversity
Sylvester Tan, Forest Research Centre - Sandakan
Takuo Yamakura, Osaka City University

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An ecological community's species diversity tends to erode through time as a result of stochastic extinction, competitive exclusion, and unstable host-enemy dynamics. This erosion of diversity can be prevented over the short term if recruits are highly diverse as a result of preferential recruitment of rare species or, alternatively, if rare species survive preferentially, which increases diversity as the ages of the individuals increase. Here, we present census data from seven New and Old World tropical forest dynamics plots that all show the latter pattern. Within local areas, the trees that survived were as a group more diverse than those that were recruited or those that died. The larger (and therefore on average older) survivors were more diverse within local areas than the smaller survivors. When species were rare in a local area, they had a higher survival rate than when they were common, resulting in enrichment for rare species and increasing diversity with age and size class in these complex ecosystems.

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