BOTANICAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO CONTEMPORARY ECOLOGICAL THEORY

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Summary

In the search for general principles in ecology, the role of botany has often been subordinate to those of mathematics, genetics and zoology. This paper identifies three important areas of ecological research (competition, coexistence, and relationships between anti-herbivore defence and decomposition processes) where comparative studies of autotrophic plants can play a leading part in analyses of the structure of communities and the functioning of ecosystems. With respect to a fourth research topic (ecological constraints arising from evolutionary histories), a stronger botanical response to the zoological lead is advocated.

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