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    Host specificity in vascular epiphytes: a review of methodology, empirical evidence and potential mechanisms

    A considerable number of plants depend on structural support by other plants. To understand their diversity and ecology, it is essential to know how strongly potential host species differ in their suitability as hosts. A new review in AoB PLANTS by Wagner et al. focuses on vascular epiphytes, i.e. structurally dependent plants that do not […] More

  • Kelp forest
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    Half measures don’t work when restoring marine forests

    Would you recognise a desert if it was covered in water? What I mean by that is if somewhere that should be covered in forest were barren and empty, would you notice? A paper in PLOS One outlines why it matters. Seaweeds (macroalgae) are the “trees” of the oceans, providing habitat structure, food and shelter […] More

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    An update on grass-free lawns

    We blogged earlier this year about Lionel Smith’s project developing grass-free lawns. He’s uploaded a long video revisiting one of his lawns a couple of years after planting. It looks like his research is a big success. If you’re even remotely interested, then it’s an excellent idea to visit his blog to see more photos. […] More

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    Reed Control

    Phragmites australis (the common reed) is widespread though not native in many regions of the World, including North America. More

  • Biodiversity and conservation of heathlands (Invited Review)
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    Biodiversity and conservation of heathlands (Invited Review)

    Heathlands are human-shaped habitats that have a strong cultural and natural value, adding substantially to many ecosystem services such as food and water supply, carbon sequestration, recreation and biodiversity conservation. Fagúndez reviews the specific response of heathland ecosystems to the main drivers of biodiversity loss, which include land-use changes, pollution, climate change, natural succession and human […] More

  • The last great plant hunt - Kew Publishing
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    Banking on future food security

    Carolyn Fry, Sue Seddon and Gail Vines’ The last great plant hunt (2011, published by Kew Publishing at £25.00 in hardback) is difficult to categorise. Certainly, The Last Great Plant Hunt [hereafter referred to as LGPH] is an unashamed advertisement for – and celebration of – the admirably optimistic and forward-looking achievement that is the […] More

  • Back to reality: 77 hours without e-mails and 248 new ones!
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    Italian Genetics Societies in Assisi: staple foods and orphan crops via epigenomics and systems biology

    The three Genetics Societies in Italy – AGI, SIBV and SIGA – held a strong joint conference in Assisi in September. With 500 people and 300 posters, the major sessions were on topical issues such as epigenetics and epigenomics, then genome plasticity, moving on to systems biology. , Approaches included whole genome sequencing, annotation and functional analysis, and focussed on many crops and some animal genetics More

  • Image: Alastair Roberts, Wikimedia Commons.
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    And the winner is…

    … well, it’s not a plant! And how predictable! The Top 10 new species of 2010 includes no plants. However, before all readers of this column jointly and severally get incensed, we must ask the obvious question: were any new plants discovered in 2010? Let me see: oh yes, there were! In fact, ‘On average, […] More

  • A meadow in Austria with high biodiversity; the importance of biodiversity is emphasized in the EU report
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    EU biodiversity strategy to 2020: Our life insurance, our natural capital

    Deterioration of biodiversity jeopardises the wealth and employment we derive from nature, and endangers our wellbeing. In the EU, only 17% of habitats and species and 11% of ecosystems protected under EU legislation are in a favourable state. The targets for 2020 include; improvement in 100% more habitat assessments and 50% more species assessments under […] More

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