Explaining the maintenance of tropical forest diversity under the countervailing forces of drift and competition poses a major challenge to ecological theory. Janzen-Connell effects, in which host-specific natural enemies restrict the recruitment of juveniles near conspecific adults, provide a potential mechanism. Janzen-Connell is strongly supported empirically, but existing theory does not address the stable coexistence of hundreds of species. Here we use high-performance computing and analytical models to demonstrate that tropical forest diversity can be maintained nearly indefinitely in a prolonged state of transient dynamics due to distance-responsive natural enemies. Further, we show that Janzen-Connell effects lead to community regulation of diversity by imposing a diversity-dependent cost to commonness and benefit to rarity. The resulting species-area and rank-abundance relationships are consistent with empirical results. Diversity maintenance over long time spans does not require dispersal from an external metacommunity, speciation, or resource niche partitioning, only a small zone around conspecific adults in which saplings fail to recruit. We conclude that the Janzen-Connell mechanism can explain the maintenance of tropical tree diversity while not precluding the operation of niche-based mechanisms such as resource partitioning.
We then develop spatially explicit hunting models to (1) project the fate of important large primate seed dispersers subject to a growing and spreading human population in Manu National Park in the Peruvian Amazon, 'the most biodiverse place on earth', and (2) project the impact of hunting on large primates throughout the Brazilian Amazon, and (3) use tree community simulations to project changed in above ground biomass as obligate primate or tapir dispersed trees suffer recruitment failure. On a basin-wide scale, seed dispersal services are worth trillions of dollars.