In spite of the broad-scale similarities between the western coasts of North and South America, there are important distinctions arising from the finer-scale variability in the physical and biotic patterns along these coasts. In particular, forcing factors such as coastal ocean currents, strong westerly winds in the upper atmosphere at mid-latitudes, and mountain ranges near the coastlines exert similar influences on the abiotic environmental features of these areas. However, local and regional biotic community composition and structure vary markedly between North and South America. The coastal rainforests of these two continents offer a unique opportunity to study a wide range of regional unique physical and biological interactions that occur in regions with similar macroscale environmental constraints.
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