Rainforest Image (image) Princeton University Share Print E-Mail Caption Rainforests around the globe have a remarkably consistent pattern of tree sizes. Now researchers have found that the reason for this structure has to do with the competition for sunlight after a large tree falls and leaves an opening in the canopy. The newly available sunlight enables the understory trees to grow quickly until a few outstrip the others and block the light from reaching their shorter counterparts. The process of moving from fast growth in the sun to slow growth in the shade sets up the characteristic size structure that is common across tropical rainforests, according to research conducted by Caroline Farrior while a postdoctoral research associate at the Princeton Environmental Institute working with Stephen Pacala, Princeton's Frederick D. Petrie Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Credit Caroline Farrior Usage Restrictions Image credit: Caroline Farrior Share Print E-Mail Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.