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Origins of Species and Societies

Tremendous biodiversity is a defining characteristic of tropical ecosystems. Thousands of tree and plant species inhabit small areas of rainforest while coastal and coral reef environments teem with life. And that’s just what we can see with the human eye—a handful of soil contains so many living creatures that scientists haven’t named them all yet. Our scientists are piecing together the story of how such diverse life evolved, in environments of mutual cooperation and tough competition. We also study the peoples who first inhabited these ecosystems, in search of lessons about the economic, cultural and social importance of the tropics. 

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