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Resource Strategies of Wild Plants

Resource Strategies of Wild Plants

Joseph M. Craine
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Resource Strategies of Wild Plants
    Book Description:

    Over millions of years, terrestrial plants have competed for limited resources, defended themselves against herbivores, and resisted a myriad of environmental stresses. These struggles have helped generate more than a quarter million terrestrial plant species, each possessing a unique strategy for success. Yet, asResource Strategies of Wild Plantsdemonstrates, the constraints on plant growth are universal enough that a few survival strategies hold true for all seed-producing plants. This book describes the five major strategies of growth for terrestrial plants, details how plants succeed when resources are scarce, delves into the history of research into plant strategies, and resets the foundational understanding of ecological processes.

    Drawing from recent findings in plant-herbivore interactions, ecosystem ecology, and evolutionary ecology, Joseph Craine explains how plants attain available nutrients, withstand the immense stresses of drying soils, and flourish in the race for light. He shows that the competition for resources has shaped plant evolution in newly discovered ways, while the scarcity of such resources has affected how plants interact with herbivores, wind, fire, and frost. An understanding of the major resource strategies of wild plants remains central to learning about the ecology of plant communities, global changes in the biosphere, methods for species conservation, and the evolution of life on earth.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3064-0
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Developmental & Cell Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. CHAPTER 1 The Basis for Plant Strategies
    (pp. 1-14)

    By best estimates, the past 325 million years of evolution have left us with approximately 250,000 species of seed-producing plants in the world today (Thorne 1992). The number of extant seed plants can be considered either large or small, depending on the context and one’s perspective. The question of concern in this book, however, is not the overall number per se but the patterns of one of the most important evolutionary radiations in the history of Earth, and the forces that drove the radiation in those patterns.

    The quarter million plant species on Earth today occupy an immensely diverse set...

  7. CHAPTER 2 The History of Plant Strategies
    (pp. 15-44)

    This chapter reviews the origins of modern concepts of plant strategy as a prelude to laying the foundation for a new synthesis of resource strategies in the next chapter. The three ecologists who have contributed the most to modern plant strategy theory are Philip Grime, Terry Chapin, and David Tilman. For the purposes of understanding extant theories, it would be better to review their work after a formal analysis of terms, yet the upcoming synthesis of plant strategies rests firmly on the foundations laid by previous ecologists. The theories of Grime, Chapin, and Tilman are not critiqued in this chapter;...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Stress and Disturbance
    (pp. 45-63)

    All other things being equal, an individual plant should reproduce as much as possible. There is no advantage for a plant to hold back on reproduction over its life span, as its genes would diminish in frequency in a given population in which other plants were reproducing more. As a result of differences in the ability to acquire and maintain resources in a given environment, some plants produce fewer offspring than others and the frequency of its genes in the population decreases, while other, more successful plants produce more offspring and their genes increase in frequency.

    The important first principle...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Resource Limitation
    (pp. 64-90)

    When the supply of a resource to a plant is less than is required for growth, stress develops, and plant growth becomes limited by the low availability of that resource. Any essential resource can be limiting to growth, and there is no necessary limit to the number of resources that can limit growth at a given time. Similarly, different plants growing in the same habitat can be limited by different resources for a number of reasons, including differences in demand ratios or in the amounts of essential resources required for growth. An important part of plant strategies has to do...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Competition for Nutrients and Light
    (pp. 91-118)

    It has long been considered that competition among plants generates significant stress for plants, and consequently serves as an important component of assembly and natural selection. In observing the high diversity of plants that could be grown in botanical gardens where plants are grown isolated from competitors, Warming surmised that competition among plants must be important in determining their distribution. In theOecology of Plantshe wrote, “Plants are evidently in general, tolerably impartial as regards soil, if we except certain chemical and physical extremes..., so long as they have not competitors.” Although Darwin did not devote much of the...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Comparing Negative Effects
    (pp. 119-148)

    In characterizing ecological patterns of natural selection, stresses and disturbances are the two main sets of factors that have shaped assemblages and plant strategies. For stresses, it is important to attempt to separate whether the stress is induced as a result of competition or is independent of neighboring plants, as each shapes plants and structures assemblages differently. Additionally, it is important to identify whether a stress agent decreases the availability of a resource, decreases the ability of plants to acquire the resource, or increases the loss of resources. With regard to disturbances, plants can lose biomass as a result of...

  12. CHAPTER 7 The Low-Nutrient Strategy
    (pp. 149-201)

    Different regions of the world exhibit many similarities in the adaptations of plant species that allow the plants to grow and reproduce successfully in low-nutrient ecosystems. The traits observed in plants with the low-nutrient strategy are associated with (1) increasing the acquisition of nutrients, (2) decreasing the requirements for nutrients, and (3) decreasing the losses of nutrients, with the specific traits spanning physiological, whole-plant, and ecosystem effects properties.

    An ecosystem may have one or more inherent characteristics that predispose it to provide an inadequate supply of nutrients to a plant. When soil moisture is high, nutrients are more likely to...

  13. CHAPTER 8 The High-Resource Strategy
    (pp. 202-226)

    Disturbance reduces the ability of plants to acquire resources in the short term, which generally increases resource availability. Both the type of disturbance and the predisturbance importance of nutrient and light limitation determine which resources increase in availability. When disturbance kills plants, both light and nutrients increase in availability. Aboveground disturbance that removes leaf area increases the amount of light that reaches the ground. Belowground disturbance reduces the ability of plants to acquire nutrients, which generally increases the availability of nutrients in the soil. Some disturbances actually increase the supplies of resources, such as when physical disturbance of the soil...

  14. CHAPTER 9 The Low-Light Strategy
    (pp. 227-250)

    Underneath the initial race for light that follows an aboveground disturbance in an ecosystem with high nutrient availability, the second stage of competition for light ensues. The species that have been selected to succeed during the first stage of competition have traits that allow them to quickly attain and then maintain leaf area dominance when nutrient availability and light levels are high. Although the shade cast by the canopies of high-resource species prevents them from maintaining additional leaves beneath their canopies, sufficient light still passes through their canopies to allow other species to grow. Natural selection associated with the reduction...

  15. CHAPTER 10 The Low-Water and Low-CO₂ Strategies
    (pp. 251-281)

    The previous three chapters examined the strategies associated with low nutrient availability, high resource availability, and low light availability. Like low nutrient and light availability, low water availability has had a profound effect on plants over evolutionary time scales, as have low atmospheric CO₂ concentrations. Understanding the strategies for low water and low CO₂ entails many similar analyses as for nutrients and light. It is important to understand how the resources are supplied to plants, how plants acquire them, and their eventual loss. Within this framework, plants can be reduced in abundance or excluded from a habitat as a result...

  16. CHAPTER 11 A Synthesis of Plant Strategies
    (pp. 282-299)

    More than a hundred years ago, Eugenius Warming began to gather together the major components that drive the performance of species, sort them into communities, and act as agents of natural selection in shaping the evolution of species. Theories of plant strategies began to coalesce around Darwin’s theories of natural selection and evolution, Liebig’s and Sprengel’s theories of limitation, the state factors that phytogeographers had recognized as determining the distributions of plants, traits associated with the ecophysiology of plants, and observations of interactions among organisms by early ecologists. Since then, our understanding of plant strategies has continued to grow, and...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 300-326)
  18. Index
    (pp. 327-331)