Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The past matters to plants

Date:
December 26, 2009
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
It's commonly known that plants interact with each other on an everyday basis: they shade each other out or take up nutrients from the soil before neighboring plants can get them. Now, researchers have learned that plants also respond to the past.

Michigan dry sand prairie.
Credit: Nicolαs Cabrera-Schneider

It's commonly known that plants interact with each other on an everyday basis: they shade each other out or take up nutrients from the soil before neighboring plants can get them. Now, researchers at the University of Michigan have learned that plants also respond to the past.

Related Articles


The research appears in the February 2010 issue of The American Naturalist.

Emily Farrer, Deborah Goldberg, and Aaron King modeled four years of population fluctuations in four species common to the Michigan dry sand prairie to determine how plants interacted with each other. They found that plants tended to compete, or negatively affect one another, over the summer, fall, and spring; but interestingly the researchers also found that the more crowded together plants were in one growing season, the more their growth was enhanced the following year.

"For example, if a species had a large, dense population a year ago, this would promote current population growth, even though the plants are currently competing," said Farrer, a graduate student in the U-M Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.

These time-lagged interactions may be due to effects from plant litter, Farrer said. After plants die back over the winter, the dead plant material starts to decompose, releasing nutrients that encourage plant growth. The litter layer also holds in soil moisture, a boon to plants struggling to survive in the dry environment.

The positive effect also may be due to the fact that the plants are perennial and can bank resources in below-ground roots and rhizomes until the following year, when they can be drawn upon to boost growth.

"Scientists had thought that lagged interactions do not occur in plants, but with the use of detailed population censuses and complex mathematical models, we showed that they do occur, can be measured, and can have significant impacts on plant population growth," Farrer said. "Finding such interactions in this study raises the possibility that they may be more widespread in plants than previously thought."

Goldberg is professor and chair and King is an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. The research was funded by the University of Michigan Biological Station, The Nature Conservancy, the University of Michigan Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Helen Olson Brower Memorial Fund.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Emily C. Farrer, Deborah E. Goldberg, and Aaron A. King, ,. Time Lags and the Balance of Positive and Negative Interactions in Driving Grassland Community Dynamics. The American Naturalist, 2010; 175 DOI: 10.1086/649584

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "The past matters to plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105439.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2009, December 26). The past matters to plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105439.htm
University of Michigan. "The past matters to plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105439.htm (accessed March 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Elephants Help Keep 18-Wheeler From Toppling Over

Elephants Help Keep 18-Wheeler From Toppling Over

Newsy (Mar. 25, 2015) — The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff&apos;s Office discovered two elephants keeping a tractor-trailer that had gotten stuck in some mud upright on a highway. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby 'pet' Orangutan Rescued from Chicken Cage Takes First Steps

Baby 'pet' Orangutan Rescued from Chicken Cage Takes First Steps

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) — Buti, a baby orangutan who was left malnourished in a chicken cage before his rescue, takes his first steps after months of painful physical therapy. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins