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This just in: Plants are people too – biologists

From “Do Plants Perform Best With Family or Strangers? Researchers Consider Social Interactions” (ScienceDaily, Nov. 9, 2011), we learn:

In the fight for survival, plants are capable of complex social behaviours and may exhibit altruism towards family members, but aggressively compete with strangers.

A growing body of work suggests plants recognize and respond to the presence and identity of their neighbours. But can plants cooperate with their relatives? While some studies have shown that siblings perform best — suggesting altruism towards relatives — other studies have shown that when less related plants grow together the group can actually outperform siblings. This implies the group benefits from its diversity by dividing precious resources effectively and competing less.

A team from McMaster University suggests plants can benefit from both altruism and biodiversity but when these processes occur at the same time, it is difficult to predict the outcome.

We thought they were kidding too, okay? But

Simply put, social environment matters to plants. If we first acknowledge that kin cooperation and resource partitioning are co-occurring, we can begin to address some very important questions,” says Amanda File, a graduate student in the Department of Biology at McMaster.

One of which is, is it reasonable to use terminology developed to explain animal relationships to try to explain plant relationships? Will fungi be next?

“Among these questions is whether there is a link between kin recognition and plant performance, whether plant kin recognition can improve crop yield and how kin recognition shapes communities and ecosystems” says Guillermo Murphy, a graduate student in the Department of Biology at McMaster.

We’re so stodgy and cynical here that we think crop rotation, tilling, irrigation, and fertilizer would be far more useful for getting at a plant’s needs than leafy green psychology. We can always arrange a test, of course.

It could still be a put-on, of course.

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10 Responses to This just in: Plants are people too – biologists

  1. Science Daily:

    “Simply put, social environment matters to plants. If we first acknowledge that kin cooperation and resource partitioning are co-occurring, we can begin to address some very important questions,”
    ****

    News:

    “is it reasonable to use terminology developed to explain animal relationships to try to explain plant relationships?”
    ====

    Why not ??? Science should be employing the art of teaching by use of good illustrations. I believe your god Jesus was a master of this.

    For example, in the Sonoran Desert environs, the use of the term “Nurse Plants” are used for describing the relationship between a Paloverde( Parkinsonia aculeata ) and it’s ability to fascilitate the propagation and growth of the infant juvenile Saguaro Cactus ( Carnegiea gigantea ) found in the hot dry Arizona deserts. The infant Saguaros look much like tiny iceplant where they emerge above the surface. When I was a kid a germinated some Saguaro seeds in a planting tray and after a couple of weeks took them outside for an hour to be in the mildly warm sunshine with temps at a mere 65F. Took them back inside after that hour and noticed they had been fried. Realized the importance of a good “Nurse Plant” Relationship in nature.

    Then there are further studies of how some plants don’t fare to well when taken away from other plants. Take the example of a North American west coast native called Madrone ( Arbutus menziesii ). They were found to not fare to well in Seattle, Washington urban garden environments when planted as a speciman tree. Yet not far away in the Washington forests around Seattle, there were countless healthy specimans along side Douglas Fir ( Pseudotsuga mensiezii ). Why ??? What they’ve discovered is that all plants manufacture their own set of alkoloids and other various chemicals that are shared through a mycorrhizal grid underground which is capable of connecting trees of diiferent species. Apparently some species benefit from elements manufactured by other trees, shrubs or other plants.

    Possible Role of Mycorrhizas in
    Resistance to Decline in
    Arbutus menziesii

    The Decline of Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii Pursh):
    Current Theory and Research Directions
    Copyright © 1999

    And to show the role of just how a grid mycorrhizal grid system works efficiently, here is

    Blackwell Publishing Ltd Hydraulic redistribution of water from Pinus ponderosa
    trees to seedlings: evidence for an ectomycorrhizal
    pathway

    The beauty of the above findings is that anyone can perform simple experiments and prove the “Nieghbour relationships” do indeed exist.

    And being that your a bible reader, there is always this scriptural texts which also uses personification terms with regards all creation.

    Psalm 145:16

    GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

    (16) “You open your hand, and you satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

    Plants are living things. Do plants have desires ??? Apparently all living things do to a degree. All plants have specific requirements for life be it climate, food, water, etc. To that extent they thrive or show lack of vitality by whether those requirements have been met or not. Clearly such descriptions are not all that out of place when descrbing to other humans just how systems work. Such descriptions actually favour intelligent design over blind unpurposed evolution which apparently could care less one way or the other.

  2. Eocene, we still question whether terms developed to describe animal behaviour should simply be mapped onto plants.

    The risk is creating apparent problems when actual interpretive problems lie elsewhere.

    For example: “How do we explain kin selection vs. competition with kin vs. general altruism”? How be we forget all that and map plant “psychology” from the ground up. Not assuming that animal categories need apply.

    Plants are complex, sensitive life forms with intricate interrelationships, but whether their behaviour is properly described in animal-driven terms is a defensible question. Dragging theology into it really does not help.

  3. “Apparently some species benefit from elements manufactured by other trees, shrubs or other plants.”

    This is a physical thing, not a social thing. This article is referring to social effects, not physical things like the elements that various plants manufacture.

    You are comparing apples to oranges. I wouldn’t humanize plants by saying they have desires. Rather they have needs, things they need in order to survive, but not a desire to grow near their parents or to be planted near their “friends”, as if they have any or even know what that word means.

    And Eocene, please lay off the Bible quoting when you have no idea what you are talking about.

    You have to look at the meaning of the Hebrew word in Ps. 145:16 to see if plants can be included in “living things.” They do not fit the category. In the Bible, plants are not said to be living things in the sense of animals. Look at Genesis 1:30. “and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has LIFE, I have given every green plant for food; and it was so.” Neither do plants “die” in the biblical sense of the word. We may speak of plants dying, but the Bible speaks of them withering. They don’t have flesh and bones like animals. The Hebrew word “living thing” or “living creature” is never used to describe plants in the Bible. Were plants taken onto the ark? No, but one of every living thing was. Plants are not included.

    In Genesis 7:23, we even have a definition of a living thing: “He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens.” I don’t see plants listed.

    And of course, the clincher is the context. Ever heard of that Eocene? Think it might be important to read a verse in it’s context? If you did, you would have realized that this is clearly referring to animals. Here is the verse before it:

    “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. ”

    Hmm. I don’t think plants have eyes. This is what happens when you take verses out of context to try and prove a point. Nice try, but no cigar!

  4. Agreed. Not only is spouting Scripture not helpful in most contexts, but it often keeps a person from seeing the nature of a problem. None of us have much more time for this but:There is a real question whether mapping the categories useful in describing the behaviour of one kingdom of life form onto another is a good approach – irrespective of claims about sensitivity and complexity.

    This happens a lot with animal studies too. That is, people inform us that Canada geese are “monogamous” but Emperor penguins are “not.” Nonsense. Neither bird “gets married” in the human sense. The relations they form should be interpreted according to their circumstances, not those of humans. Canada geese retain one partner probably because they live and migrate together. Mating fights would waste energy to little purpose, as one goose is not much different from another. If a mate dies, the goose will often, after a season or so, take another mate. The penguin, by contrast, is separated from its mate for long and dangerous periods during which it is not known if the mate will survive. Not surprisingly, we find, a different mate is chosen each year. Understanding bird behaviour is probably more efficient if we leave thinking developed to describe human behaviour out of it, and just look at the bird in its habitat..

  5. tjguy:

    “This is a physical thing, not a social thing. This article is referring to social effects, not physical things like the elements that various plants manufacture.”
    ====

    Interesting, so you’d even demonize the scientific reference to group of plant nieghbour that share common environmental characteristics when they’ve created the term “plant community” ???
    —-

    tjguy:

    “And Eocene, please lay off the Bible quoting when you have no idea what you are talking about.
    ====

    Buddy, you’ve just booksmithed the wrong person.
    —-

    tjguy:

    “Neither do plants “die” in the biblical sense of the word. We may speak of plants dying, but the Bible speaks of them withering.”
    ====

    So when you use ‘Round-Up’ on your weeds, you’re whithering them and not killing them ???
    —-

    tjguy:

    “In Genesis 7:23, we even have a definition of a living thing: “He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens.” I don’t see plants listed.”
    ====

    So let me get this straight. No Trees, shrubs or any other plants died in the flood ??? So what constitutes “every living thing at Genesis 8:21 (Amplified Bible)

    ” . . neither will I ever again smite and destroy ‘every living thing’, as I have done.”

    Are plants included ???

    Then we have Romans 8:22 – (Common English Bible)

    22 ‘We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now.’

    Does this include plants ??? Do plants also suffer as a result of mankinds imperfection and sin ??? How about the earth itself, does it groan, even in a figurative way ??? Even the earth itself has been adversely affected by modern man’s idiocy. Human selfishness, greed and neglect have turned certain areas into deserts by stripping protective forests(plants). Chemicals and other waste products have polluted land, sea and air. The Bible’s description as given by Paul, 2,000 years ago, of the lousy living conditions of life on the earth is even far more accurate today.
    —-

    tjguy:

    “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. ”

    “Hmm. I don’t think plants have eyes. This is what happens when you take verses out of context to try and prove a point. Nice try, but no cigar!”
    ====

    Isaiah 55:12

    New Century Version (NCV)

    (12) “The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees in the fields will clap their hands.”
    ****

    Do you think hills and mountains have mouths that can sing ??? Do trees and other plants really have hands that they can actually clap ???

    You wanna play the smartass go right ahead.

  6. NEWS:

    “Eocene, we still question whether terms developed to describe animal behaviour should simply be mapped onto plants.

    The risk is creating apparent problems when actual interpretive problems lie elsewhere.

    For example: “How do we explain kin selection vs. competition with kin vs. general altruism”? How be we forget all that and map plant “psychology” from the ground up. Not assuming that animal categories need apply.”

    I understand what you’re saying, but descriptive personification terms do have a proper place in illustrating and teaching. Clearly though when Evolutionists use words like “Altruism”, “Tinkering”, etc, etc, etc they are attempting to cheat and deflect away from their number one article of faith being “No Inteeligence Allowed”. The reason is they actually know how retarded they sound in if attempting to be honest about having to explain how blind pointless indifference without purpose or intent accomplish anything. So hijacking words/terms otherwise used to explain intelligent things becomes the norm for them.

    —-

  7. NEWS:

    “Plants are complex, sensitive life forms with intricate interrelationships, but whether their behaviour is properly described in animal-driven terms is a defensible question.”
    ====

    Yet science often uses words/terms with reference to plants like talking and communication. Or how about bacteria’s ability to talk or even hunt in wolfpacks ??? They’re only illustrative for the benefit of the student or reader. I don’t have a problem with it, especially in the light of biblical references to such illustrative terms. Wisdom at Proverbs 8 is personified, but obviously the word/term ‘Wisdom’ is not an actual person. In this case of course it is a title, but the reader needs to decern that by cross referencing. The point is there shouldn’t be a problem with every use of such expressions or words to illustrate a point.

    I understand your purpose here is to look for perceived flaws in science articles and present them for discussion, and maybe there is a point with the word “Altruism”, but otherwise they are good teaching tools.
    —-

    NEWS:

    “Dragging theology into it really does not help.”
    ====

    What do you mean bringing in Theology doesn’t help ??? Then what’s the point of this whole blogs purpose in the first place anyway ??? It sure isn’t just the pimping of one intellectualism worldview in favour of another! Or is it ???

  8. Eocene,

    The structure of your posts makes it harder to tell who said what. I don’t think most people want to scroll back up to figure out which is a previous statement and which is you replying.

    In Genesis God says that man may have the plants of the earth for food. He also notes that animals are also souls, and may also eat the plants for food. Men and animals are souls, plants are food. That about says it all.

  9. Scott Andrews:

    “In Genesis God says that man may have the plants of the earth for food. He also notes that animals are also souls, and may also eat the plants for food. Men and animals are souls, plants are food. That about says it all.”
    ====

    Clearly this is way off. I understand that all moving swarming creatures are living souls. That was not the point of my post. There are many references to ‘all living things’ that could include all of biological creation. The whole original rediculous point was the demonizing of personification words/terms by evolutionists, which I agree with is hypocritical on their part, but I get the reasons they do it. But clearly for Christians, such illustrative use of words/terms shouldn’t be an issue since it can support their views.

    It’s just that sometimes in these incessant looking up Eureka Alert News for excuses to pounce on Evolutionists, some things get carried away with. Clearly there are a number of subject here that have nothing to do with creation or evolution and are more on the political ideological side and those subjects for the most part I usually avoid. As an example, there is yet another Hitler/Darwin comparison thread. No problem there, I happen to agree with that. But what will almost never be addressed here or anywhere else for that matter, are major Church involvement and contributions to bringing that creepy pervert to power. Why ??? Never get a straight forwards answer. Just like the early days of Darwiniana. How many atheists or agnostics does anyone think there was pushing Darinism back in the late 19th century and early 20th century ??? Hardly any. History show us that Countries involved in colonialism which claimed to be Christian pushed that theory as a justification for world dominance. It was just a year and a half ago that the Dutch Reformed church apologized for their role in pushing and supporting Apartheid in southern Africa. Why did they do that in the first place ??? They had the same bible we have today. Clearly the unterhosen drawer on the other side has some of the same dirty laundry as Darwinism.

    But instead of acknowledging it and moving on, we get excuses. If Hitler is brought up, is it not only fair to discuss Christendom’s involvement as well as atheisms ??? Apparently not judging from some of the history here.

  10. Eocene,

    I know why you feel that way. And I mean exactly why. I try to just steer clear of it. Sometimes let myself get sucked in.

    The real answer is for me to quit spending so much time on an internet forum. I’m constantly reminded not to waste time on the internet. Do you know what I mean?

    Moderators, has someone ever asked to be banned? It’s really pathetic, because I’m asking you to exercise my self control for me. But if you could just ban me, that would be awesome. (That’s way more polite than deliberately provoking it, isn’t it?)

    Thanks

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