In the Netherlands in the period after World War II, plant ecology concentrated mainly on classifying the vegetation according to the methods of Braun Blanquet. This period came to an end in the 1970s and influenced by John Harper research into the level of the population took over. This shift in approach was considerably facilitated by support from animal population biology, which in the Netherlands is of a longstanding tradition and at that time was flourishing. The joint project of which the results are published in this book started at that time as a co-operative effort between plant ecologists, plant physiologists and animal population geneticists. Most of the contributors were associates of the Institute for Ecological Research of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Departments of Plant Physiology and Population Genetics of the University of Groningen. This multidisciplinary project, in which also soil chemists, micrometeorlogists and microbiologists participated, began in 1976 under the title Comparative research on the demographic, physiological and genetic properties of plant species in relation to the properties of their location in grasslands. The original idea was that the properties of phylogenetically related species would be nearly alike but that their differences would be adaptations to their specific environments. The genus Plantago was chosen for this comparative research.
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