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    Burning trees? Give me a break…

    One of the big problems with plants is that their phenomenal photosynthetic efforts produce masses of dry matter. What, that’s a problem..? [Ed. – please, read on…] On the plus side, that fuels global food webs and thereby facilitates much of what happens on this planet of ours. On the minus side, when it is […] More

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    Effects of density and fire on the vital rates and population growth of a perennial goldenaster

    In a novel analysis by Gornish published in AoB PLANTS, a regression-design life-table response experiment was used to determine how the interaction of fire and density affected vital rates of the perennial composite Pityopsis aspera, and ultimately how these changes in vital rates contributed to differences in estimated population growth rates. The shape of the […] More

  • The ecological importance of sedges (Invited Review)

    The ecological importance of sedges (Invited Review)

    Sword and rapier sedges (Lepidosperma, Cyperaceae) are common in the southern Australian and New Zealand floras, also occurring in New Caledonia and South-east Asia. Sedge ecology is seldom studied and Barrett provides the first comprehensive review. He considers that Lepidosperma species are important components of many ecosystems; unusually, the majority of species occur in mesic habitats. […] More

  • Image: Wikimedia Commons.


    Picking up on my elemental theme, fire has long been considered a major influence on evolution of the angiosperms, whether natural or anthropogenic conflagrations. This incendiary interaction has not been helped by plants themselves, which not only generate highly calorific and combustible dry matter but also provide the oxygen needed to permit their combustion. The […] More

  • Friedrich Justin Bertuch, Bilderbuch für Kinder, 1790–1830.


    In biology, matters are rarely either good or bad; oftentimes they may be both at once (albeit usually for different organisms). Take for instance hydrogen cyanide, which is widely regarded to be rather bad since it is a potent poison that can kill most living things by ‘interfering’ (that’s a euphemism!) with respiration. However, it […] More