Why is it beneficial for trees to grow that tall?
This sounds like a kid's question
Mom, Dad... why are trees so tall?
Costs and Benefits
There are some obvious costs:
- Need much Carbon and other nutrients
- maintenance cost
- energy cost (for growing, to bring water (and nutrients) up to the higher leaves, etc...)
- Sensitivity to wind
Potential benefits I can think of:
- Competition for sunlight
- Better dispersal
- protection against predation
- Some birds (maybe especially those that are potentially good seed dispersers) prefer to land on high trees (avoiding the cost of regaining altitude). Being high attract these birds which eat the fruits and disperse the seeds.
Are there other potential benefits?
Specific to palm trees
I am currently in Bali, Indonesia looking at palm trees that seem to have a very low competition for sun light (the forest is not dense, the light is intense), there are no tall predators (but being tall might be a protection against climbing predators as well and there are indeed monkeys and other potential climbing predators) and looking at coconuts, papaya and banana I can hardly think that being tall helps to disperse further away (seeds dispersal by barochory). So, why (evolutionary reasons) are palm trees so high?