All posts by zooplantman

Former Director of Horticulture, Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo. Zoo exhibit & landscape designer perversely fascinated by the doings of plants, animals, ecosystems and other things not requiring batteries
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Plants’ Wiley Defenses

Plants are not as defenseless as they may seem. Various plant hormones work together to specifically fend off attacks. … By 'consulting' with each other plant hormones determine which defense mechanism they shall set in motion.

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Alien Ants Re-Design Ecosystem

Since ants have dominated, the forest floor has become crowded and this indirectly affects understorey birds because it changes their habitat and food sources. 'It's an amazing transformation of the forest in a short time'.

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If Birds Won’t Disperse The Seeds Then Ants Will

Thus, birds and ants provide spatially complementary seed dispersal in the cerrado. Furthermore, we found that ants may be as important as birds for seed dispersal in Xylopia, at least for some individual plants and/or years.

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Plant, Know Thyself

Animals have the ability to distinguish self from non-self, which has allowed them to evolve immune systems and, in some instances, to act preferentially towards individuals that are genetically identical or related. Self-recognition is less well known for plants, although recent work indicates that physically connected roots recognize self and reduce competitive interactions. Sagebrush uses volatile cues emitted by clipped branches of self or different neighbours to increase resistance to herbivores

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EXTRA! Extra! Biodiversity Theory Proven?

It's still a mystery why there are 300 times more herbivorous insects than bird species, but now we are able to implicate traits of both plants and insects that have given rise to so many species.

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Native Tree To Save African Farmers

Faidherbia is one of several trees that can capture nitrogen from the air through its roots and incorporate it into its leaves. But what makes it unique is that it grows in the dry season and drops its leaves come the rainy season, when crops start to grow.

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Ghost Orchids Cannot Survive On Their Own

Three Thai orchids have been found to rely on a wide range of fungi to help them take carbon out of the soil instead of producing their own organic carbon.

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Lichens’ Untold Secret

Lichens are the classic example of a symbiotic relationship. Both the fungal and photobiont components of the lichen benefit from the relationship and often are unable to survive without each other. Recent research… explore(s) the possibility of lichens as domesticators, similar to early farmers domesticating grains.

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Carnivorous Plants Evolve For Bigger Meals

&#133the advantage of being able to catch and digest larger insects may have driven the evolution of the snap traps' many specializations, including sensitive trigger hairs on the inside surface of each leaf and the ability to respond quickly to a potential meal — a Venus flytrap can snap a leaf shut in a fraction of a second.

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Making Hard Choices

No one's certain how the meadows formed, and the encroachment is a natural succession… But the Forest Service believes the meadows have both scenic and botanic value, and the only way to keep them open is to beat back the advancing trees.