Why are so many trees hollow?

Graeme D. Ruxton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In many living trees, much of the interior of the trunk can be rotten or even hollowed out. Previously, this has been suggested to be adaptive, with microbial or animal consumption of interior wood producing a rain of nutrients to the soil beneath the tree that allows recycling of those nutrients into new growth via the trees roots. Here I propose an alternative (non-exclusive) explanation: such loss of wood comes at very little cost to the tree and so investment in costly chemical defence of this wood is not economic. I discuss how this theory can be tested empirically.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20140555
Number of pages3
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • Herbivory
  • Plant defences
  • Termites
  • Wood
  • Northern Australia
  • Growth
  • Survival
  • Failure


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