Physiological Processes in Plant Ecology: the Structure for a Synthesis
The study of physiology — “science of the normal functions and phenomena” — of living plants should be inseparable from the study of their ecology which is concerned with “the habits, modes of life, and relations to their surroundings” (Fowler and Fowler, 1949) of individual plants in communities and ecosystems. Physiological plant ecology serves to bridge physiology and ecology which represent a continuum of biological research method and philosophy, and this bridging discipline has proved a possible and profitable exercise, generating new insights into both physiology and ecology. However, the canvas of physiological ecology is so vast and the scale of the exercise is so immense that there is a real danger of themes being lost and contributors becoming increasingly unable to relate their individual efforts to those of others. Each of us, like Niggle, has a clear concept of how particular leaves should be represented. Yet in striving to paint these within a particular context we too are frequently reduced to tacking our canvasses to the dimly perceived tree. It is this dilemma, the dilemma of context, relevance, and relationship between the different contributions, which poses the greatest challenge to physiological plant ecology.
KeywordsAdaptive Significance Crassulacean Acid Metabolism Photosynthetic Pathway Physiological Ecology Physiological Plant Ecology
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