You would never guess what plants play at

You would never guess what plants play at

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The F.C. Barcelona or Real Madrid win the league frequently, but this does not mean that both teams will always beat the rest, since it is not uncommon to see them 'play' against other less favorite teams. Apparently the same thing happens with plants, some species are the F.C. Barcelona or Real Madrid of the plants and they dominate much more than the others, that is, they have more coverage (or points in the league, continuing with the football analogy). It has always been thought that these species can win over all others.

However, a recent article, published in Ecology Letters and led by scientists from the Rey Juan Carlos University and the University of Bern (Switzerland), has shown that this is not entirely true.

Using a very novel method and the combination of the data generated in the BIOCOM projects and biodiversity observatories, the international team of scientists quantified the number of times that dominant plants 'pricked' against other less favorite ones.

The result provides a measure to calculate in what proportion the plant communities differ from a total hierarchy (which would be, for example, if Real Madrid always beat all teams, without exception).

There is no total winner Ecologists call the lack of this hierarchy ‘intransitive networks’, although it is better known as the ‘rock, paper and scissors’ game.

In this popular game, the scissors beat the paper, but not the rock, and the paper in turn wins the rock. In other words, one of the three members of the ‘rock, paper, scissors’ community loses to one of the competitors and wins against the other, so there is no ‘total winner’ who defeats all the others.

"This study and the methodology developed allow us to better understand the mechanisms that make it possible for so many species to live together and verify which of them should be promoted to avoid the loss of biodiversity caused by human activities," says URJC professor Fernando Maestre , co-author of the study and leader of the BIOCOM project, funded by the Starting Grants program of the European Research Council.

Therefore, assessing whether plants play 'rock, paper and scissors' is not a mere question of curiosity: “Evaluating this process allows us to better explain why in some places many plant species can coexist despite the fact that the variety of The resources for which they compete is not very large, ”says Santiago Soliveres Codina, post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bern (Switzerland) and leader of the study.

"Furthermore, if we manage to be able to explain the processes that maintain diversity, we can also imitate them to mitigate the loss of biodiversity that we are causing with our actions," adds Soliveres. In this study, the scientists not only show that the vast majority of the more than 1,500 communities studied habitually play 'rock, paper and scissors', but also that this process is related to a greater number of species that can coexist.

In addition, these ‘intransitive networks’ may partially avoid the loss of biodiversity predicted for future climate scenarios. However, human actions reduce the environmental variability naturally present in ecosystems (such as fertilizing fields, for example) and reduce the possibility that plants carry out this process, increasing the loss of species that already exist. is derived from these activities. Bibliographic reference: Soliveres, S., FT Maestre, W. Ulrich, P. Manning, S. Boch, MA Bowker, D. Prati, M. Delgado Baquerizo, JL Quero, I. Schöning, A. Gallardo, W. Weisser, J. Müller, S. Socher, M. García-Gómez, V. Ochoa, E.-D. Schulze, M. Fischer & E. Allan. 2015.

"Intransitive competition is widespread in plant communities and maintains species richness" Ecology Letters, doi: 10.1111 / ele.12456.


Video: MACHINE SHOP TALK - Episode #17: The 80-20 Rule (June 2022).


  1. Akiva

    I join. And I ran into this. We can communicate on this theme.

  2. Mariel

    This idea is outdated

  3. Ruark

    Does not agree

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