Yasuní National Park in eastern Ecuador is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. In 1995, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Ecuador (PUCE), the University of Aarhus in Denmark, and ForestGEO-STRI initiated a Forest Dynamics Plot in the northwest portion of the Park in lowland, aseasonal, old-growth rainforest. In 1 ha of the Yasuní FDP, there are 644 tree species. Comparing this number with species counts in 1 ha of forest at other sites—BCI, Panama (168 species); Pasoh, Peninsular Malaysia (497 species)—illustrates the exceptional richness of the Yasuní forest. When the 50 ha site is complete, we expect there to be about 1,300 species in the site. During the first census, 20 species were discovered that are new to science.
Trees have been censused once for the entire 50-ha site and twice in the western half of the site, providing demographic data for 25 ha. Ongoing research at the Yasuní FDP includes biweekly monitoring of 200 seed traps, annual censuses of seedlings, and a liana census in part of the site. Soil structure and nutrient content have been analyzed in the western 25 ha of the site.