SPECIAL ISSUE: Using Ideas from Behavioural Ecology to Understand Plants

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Ant-Plant Mutualism - Lasius emarginatus feeding on extrafloral nectar secreted by Vicia sativa. (pictures by D. Giannetti and D.A. Grasso, Myrmecology Lab, University of Parma)
Ant–plant mutualism – Lasius emarginatus feeding on extrafloral nectar secreted by Vicia sativa. (Photo credit: D. Giannetti and D.A. Grasso, Myrmecology Lab, University of Parma)

AoB PLANTS is pleased to announce the publication of a Special Issue Using Ideas from Behavioural Ecology to Understand Plants, edited by James F Cahill (University of Alberta, Canada). The way that environmental and evolutionary biologists view plants is changing. In one approach, plants are viewed as a series of primarily morphological traits, from which ecological function and outcomes of species interactions may be inferred. This special issue offers an alternative, and more holistic, view: that the ecological functions performed by a plant will be a consequence not only of its morphology, but also of the ways in which its component parts are used in response to environmental and social conditions. This is the realm of behavioural ecology, a field that has greatly advanced our understanding of animal biology, ecology, and evolution. The papers in this special issue move well beyond the metaphor that plant growth is similar to animal movement, and demonstrate how integration of established behavioural concepts and theories into the study of plants has the potential for advancing both disciplines of science. In other words, viewing plant actions as behaviours, rather than as resembling them, can enhance understanding. The 10 papers included here address diverse topics in behavioural ecology, as applied to plants: general conceptual understanding, plant nutrient foraging, root–root interactions, and using and helping others. As a group, the papers demonstrate how plant ecological understanding can be enhanced through incorporation of behavioural ideas and set the stage for future research in the emerging discipline of plant behavioural ecology.


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