Botany

Plant Adaptations in Varied Biomes on Earth



Tweet
Sammy Stein's image for:
"Plant Adaptations in Varied Biomes on Earth"
Caption: 
Location: 
Image by: 
©  

Plants are adapted to every biome you can think of. Unlike animals, plants occupy every niche, from sulphur poools, to Arctic conditions, from deserts to water itself. Plants continue to amaze and survive when all else falls by the wayside.

How they do this is by adapting and even changing their environment. From pioneer plants, who can colonise, self pollinate and spread in inhospitable terrains, plants change the conditions and so allow others to come and, eventually, animals.

Pioneer plants put roots into the soil which break up particles into smaller ones. They self pollinate, which results in the spread over a wide area of the species. They can often spread by other means like runners or roots too. These plants are tough and usually small. They create areas of ground which are more shaded than the barren rock, they drop leaves and change the chemical nature of the soil, they exude chemicals from their roots which alter the pH and nature of the soil near them. So, barren rocky soil changes slowly into one which is more friable and richer. This allows seeds of other plants to germinate and grow, often at the expense of the pioneer plants.

In turn, these attract animals who further churn up the soil, add nutrients in the form of droppings, spread seeds and increase the horticultural potential of the area. Eventually you end up with the final vegetation for that climate. Because the vegetation which is able to grow is determined by the soil, the activity and climate, it is specific to each biome. This, in a nutshell is vegetative climax.

As well as changing their own environment,plants adapt themselves to suit different biomes.
Plants growing where it is dry and hot (xerophytes)have adaptations which include water storage tissue, green stems (so stems can photosynthesis and reduce evaporation surface of leaves), reduced leaves (often into spines to protect them from being eaten. They may also have hairs to create a microclimate in which water will be trapped and create a humid layer next to the plant which reduces evaporation.

Plants can grow in water too - these plants often have large floating leaves, air storage tissue (aerenchyma) and gas and water diffuses directly in and out of the plant tissue.

There are plants adapted to damp places (hygrophytes) with hairy leaves, large surface areas and shallow roots. There are even plants adapted to growing in salt marshes (halophytes) and these exude salt from special glands so making the saline water useable, or store fresh water in their tissues.

Even in deep water, plants in the form of algae grow and here they adapt to use different wave lengths of light, which can penetrate lower depths - this is why we have green, red and blue seaweeds.

In the high alpine conditions, plants have adapted by having deep roots,small growth habit and adaptations to store water (as in snow, though water is in the ice, it is not available to the plants).

Rain forest plants have adapted heavy scents and vivid flowers so pollinators can find them in the dense foliage. Plants have adapted to be pollinated by bats, moths and birds specifically, thereby using common animals in different areas to their advantage.
Plants have associations with fungi and bacteria to enable them to survive high altitude (e.g. myccorhizal fungi in the roots of birch tree which make food for the tree).

Even seed distribution is special according to the biome of the plant. Some seeds are spread by wind, even having parachutes to carry them away from the parent plant (e.g. dandelions). This reduces competiton with its parent plants and also spreads the seed. Seeds are adapted to survive the passage through an animal's gut, have sticky of spiky surfaces to attach themselves to animals and many other adaptations to ensure their spread.

Every biome has plants - they adapt and survive where animals would be lmited by food of bllood type (cold orwarm blooded) and will continue to be the source of amazement for a long timeto come.

Tweet
More about this author: Sammy Stein

From Around the Web




ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS