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Old 07-25-2009, 02:17 PM   #1
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Default Smaller Plants Punch Above Their Weight In The Forest

Smaller Plants Punch Above Their Weight In The Forest
ScienceDaily (July 14, 2009) New findings from Queen's University biologists show that in the plant world, bigger isn't necessarily better.

Smaller Plants Punch Above Their Weight In The Forest
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Previous studies revealed that larger plant species monopolize sunlight, water and other resources, limiting the number of smaller plant species that can exist around them. But new research has proven that this is not generally the case in natural vegetation.
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"Think of the plants like professional boxers," says Professor Aarssen. "To win the fight, you need more than a solid punch; you need to be able to tolerate all the punches you're going to take. The winner may be the competitor with the superior 'staying power'."

Smaller plants have many advantages over their overbearing neighbours, Professor Aarssen notes. Larger species generate physical space niches under their canopies where smaller species thrive. Smaller plants are much more effective than large trees at utilizing available resources. They also produce seeds at a much younger age and higher rate than their bigger counterparts, and establish much more quickly thus competing with the seedlings of larger species.
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