Navigation Links
Move over predators: Plants can control the food chain too -- from the bottom up
Date:3/25/2010

ITHACA, N.Y. Forget top-to-bottom only. New Cornell University evolutionary biology research shows how plants at the bottom of the food chain have evolved mechanisms that influence ecosystem dynamics as well. (Science, March 26, 2010.)

"The ecology and interactions of most organisms is dictated by their evolutionary history," said Anurag Agrawal, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB), the study's senior author.

In food webs, predators help suppress populations of prey by eating them; that frees species lower in the food chain, such as plants, to flourish, a dynamic called a "trophic cascade." Most trophic cascade studies have focused on the ability of predators to increase plant biomass by eating herbivores. Such studies typically find strong trophic cascades in aquatic environments, where big fish eat minnows, which eat the tiny algae-eating crustaceans called daphnia.

Agrawal, first author Kailen Mooney, who is a former Cornell postdoctoral researcher and now assistant professor at the University of California-Irvine, and colleagues studied trophic cascades in 16 milkweed species, famed for their interactions with monarch butterflies, and also fed upon by aphids.

Plants have evolved three main strategies for increasing their biomass as much as they can against the forces that limit their growth, said the researchers: They grow as quickly as possible; develop direct defenses, such as toxins or prickly leaves, against herbivores; and attract such predators as ladybugs that eat their pests.

But plants do not have the resources to develop all three defenses. Since Darwin, evolutionary biologists have hypothesized that over millions of years of evolution, plant species are subject to trade-offs, developing some defense strategies in lieu of others; a key finding of the new study is that these evolutionary trade-offs drive how modern ecosystems are structured.

In the case of milkweed,
'/>"/>

Contact: Blaine Friedlander
bpf2@cornell.edu
607-254-8093
Cornell University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

Related biology news :

1. Layered approach may yield stronger, more successful bone implants
2. Clever plants chat over their own network
3. Plants can be used to study how and why people respond differently to drugs
4. Book on weeds and invasive plants discusses how to manage them using ecological approaches
5. A greenhouse in order to study the impact of climate change on plants
6. Agent that triggers immune response in plants is uncovered
7. Scientists ramp up ability of poplar plants to disarm toxic pollutants
8. A new baseline of invasive plants in Isabela
9. Hungry microbes share out the carbon in the roots of plants
10. Scientists warn that species extinction could reduce productivity of plants on Earth by half
11. Cell transplants may improve severe urinary incontinence
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/1/2015)... --  Medisafe ™, the leading global medication management platform ... and Android smartphones and tablets, announces today ... to allow patients to track and correlate their adherence ... will be able to visualize in real-time how taking ... as glucose levels and blood pressure. "Patients ...
(Date:3/31/2015)... YORK , March 31, 2015   Guidepoint ... the launch of the Post-Surgical Pain Management TRACKER, part ... products tracking usage trends in the medical device and ... access to data including treatment volumes, market share, and ... the pain associated with joint surgery. The ...
(Date:3/26/2015)... 26, 2015 The Granite Club, ... and athletic club, today announced it has implemented a ... of movement for members and staff, while restricting access ... process, we selected FST,s IMID Access system because it ... our members and staff, in addition to unparalleled security," ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):Medisafe Announces Launch of Biometric Integration, Enabling Patients to Stay Adherent to Their Meds and See Tangible Health Results 2Guidepoint Launches Post-Surgical Pain Management TRACKER 2Guidepoint Launches Post-Surgical Pain Management TRACKER 3Granite Club First Private Club in North America to Implement FST Biometrics Secure Access Solution, as Part of Multi-million Dollar Expansion 2
... The northern spotted owl, a threatened species in the ... from active management of the forest lands that form ... fire, researchers conclude in a recent study. Whatever ... other fuel reduction activities in areas with high fire ...
... scientific community has always wanted to know why people ... problems such as kidney stones and osteoporosis. , Medical ... this puzzle through their work with animal lab models ... recently discovered an important link between sodium and calcium. ...
... -- The San Francisco State University researchers who accidentally ... want people across the United States and Canada to ... Today SF State Professor of Biology John Hafernik and ... the Center for Computing for the Life Sciences launched ...
Cached Biology News:Active forest management to reduce fire could help protect northern spotted owl 2Diets high in salt could deplete calcium in the body: UAlberta research 2Citizen scientists needed for SF State's 'ZomBee Watch' 2
(Date:4/16/2015)... Morton Grove, IL (PRWEB) April 16, 2015 ... the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) ... at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, starting Saturday, April 18, ... The AACR holds claim to title of the oldest ... several journals, provides fellowships and grants, and partners with ...
(Date:4/16/2015)... -- In recognition of World Hemophilia Day, Biogen  (NASDAQ: ... more than 15 prominent landmarks red throughout the ... Zakim Bridge and Prudential Tower, Chicago,s ... and Denver,s Coors Field . ... and coincide with hemophilia community events in a dozen locations ...
(Date:4/16/2015)... ChemRar High Tech ... R&D group, and Lancet, Russian Distribution Company, ... commercialization of new medicines in ... stimulate the innovative development of the Russian ... ,     (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150416/739742-b) , Through ...
(Date:4/16/2015)... -- Avelas Biosciences, an in vivo cancer ... that it has initiated a Phase 1b study of ... primary, non-recurrent breast cancer undergoing surgery. In commencing the ... Steven Chen , M.D., as vice president of ... study will enroll up to 39 women with stage ...
Breaking Biology Technology:Regis Technologies Joins American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2Biogen Shines A Light On Hemophilia Community By Illuminating U.S. Landmarks Red On World Hemophlia Day 2Biogen Shines A Light On Hemophilia Community By Illuminating U.S. Landmarks Red On World Hemophlia Day 3Biogen Shines A Light On Hemophilia Community By Illuminating U.S. Landmarks Red On World Hemophlia Day 4Lancet and ChemRar High Tech Center Have Announced a Partnership in the Development and Production of Novel Drugs in Russia 2Avelas Biosciences Initiates Phase 1b Trial of AVB-620 in Breast Cancer Patients 2Avelas Biosciences Initiates Phase 1b Trial of AVB-620 in Breast Cancer Patients 3
... real environment, the city of Madison. Image courtesy of ... Firefighters need to be fully prepared, practicing hundreds of ... to respond to a chemical spill immediately, getting the ... to work together, planning the best strategy to avoid ...
... ago, a mega-merger of higher education institutions created the University ... insist those who pine for days gone by, but the ... Wisconsins public resources. , ,The time has come for ... time with 21st century realities in mind. Facing a state ...
... announcement that it plans to buy its former parent ... for new opportunities. , ,Drew Petersen, director of legislative affairs ... and AT&T is a sign that SBC plans to become ... TDS, which Petersen said tries to present itself as a ...
Cached Biology Technology:How games have evolved to provide real-world education 2How games have evolved to provide real-world education 3How games have evolved to provide real-world education 4Structural change is coming to the UW System 2Structural change is coming to the UW System 3SBC merger with AT&T could open opportunities in Wisconsin 2