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Rare Species Support Vulnerable Functions in High-Diversity Ecosystems

Figure 4

Species supporting some of the most vulnerable functions on coral reefs, in alpine meadows, and in rain forests.

(A) The giant moray eel (Gymnothorax javanicus (Muraenidae)), the largest of the moray eels, hunts by night within the labyrinth of the coral reef (B). (C) Saxifraga cotyledon (Saxifragaceae) is a low-growing, rare evergreen perennial plant, with long flowering stems that make it an important resource for pollinators on species-poor siliceous alpine cliffs (D). (E) Pouteria maxima (Sapotaceae), a rain forest tree with thick, coriaceous leaves and a wide buttressed trunk with thick bark, which may buffer the impacts of drought and fire predicted to occur more frequently for tropical forests (F). Photo credits: (A) M.J. Kramer, (B) J.P. Krajewski, (C) J.P. Dalmas, (D) W. Thuiller, (E, F) C.E.T. Paine.

Figure 4

doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001569.g004