Tropical seeds 300 times bigger than those in colder climes

September 1st, 2008 - 11:10 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 1 (IANS) A study of 75 ecosystems worldwide has thrown up a wealth of new information about the secret lives of plants with some important lessons bearing on climate change. University of New South Wales (UNSW) biologist Angela Mores spent two years comparing seeds of almost 13,000 plant species and discovered that in the tropics they are likely to be 300 times bigger than those in colder climes.

She has also assembled a database of the relative heights of about 22,000 species. The landmark study is already yielding some fundamental insights and previously unknown patterns in the way plants vary between warmer and cooler parts of the world.

Among the early findings by Moles and colleague Will Edwards of James Cook University, is that most vines are left-handed: that is, they twist anti-clockwise irrespective of whether they grow north or south of the equator.

The results of her study, under the World Herbivory Project, are still being analysed. She has also found that in the tropics plants have to cope with being eaten more often by animals than do those further north or south in latitude.

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