A few dozen tree species of the thousands that exist in the Amazon dominate the rainforest, according to a study that may help researchers identify when tree species are the most threatened with extinction. More than 120 researchers cataloged trees throughout the 2.3 million-square-mile area around the Amazon River, finding about 16,000 tree species, 227 of which made up almost half the tree population. "That's a much smaller number than anyone anticipated," said tropical forest ecologist Hans ter Steege of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, Netherlands.

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