Till startsida
Sitemap
To content Read more abput how we use cookies on gu.se

Shrubs More Expansive Than Trees

News: Sep 05, 2016

Shrubs are more widespread than trees in nature and on Earth. A new study explains their global success. It turns out that the multiple stems of shrubs are of key importance. This feature contributes to both better growth and better survival than in trees of similar size, according to the research team behind the study.

Shrubs with flowers and berries are popular in parks and gardens, and in nature they are far more widespread than trees: shrubs grow on at least 40 per cent of the world’s land surface while for trees the figure is only 28 per cent. Still, relatively few efforts have been made to fully understand them.

Shrubs benefits from multiple stems

Now Frank Götmark, Elin Götmark and Anna Jensen, researchers in Sweden at the University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology and the Linnaeus University, have explored the reasons for the great success of shrubs on our planet.

The research team’s theoretical model shows that shrubs, with their multiple stems, have a larger total cross-sectional stem area at the base than trees with the same above-ground woody volume. This makes it easier for shrubs to grow since it helps them transport water and nutrients more rapidly to leaves and growth processes. Available studies in nature support the team’s model.

Faster formation of branches and leaves

Shrubs also have a larger bark area than a tree of similar size. Since the bark is where buds form, this enables them to form twigs, leaves and crowns at a faster rate, which implies a growth advantage compared with trees, which prioritize vertical growth in their single stem.

However, trees also have advantages. For example, they can grow bigger and compete by shading the shrubs, according to the researchers. Yet the fast growth and lower height of the shrubs mean that they can bloom earlier in life, set seed faster, and more quickly spread to new places.
If a stem breaks, a shrub will likely do better than a tree, which only has one single stem to rely on. Being lower in height also offers advantages in windy, cold and arid environments, which explains why shrubs also are common in deserts and arctic habitats. The new study is relevant for understanding the current global expansion of shrubs in grasslands and heathlands (‘shrubification’).

The study is published in Frontiers in Plant Sciences.
Link to the published study: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpls.2016.01095/full#

Contact:
Frank Götmark, professor of ecology at the University of Gothenburg, +46 (0)31 786 36 50, +46 (0)70 230 93 15, frank.gotmark@bioenv.gu.se
Elin Götmark, senior lecturer at Mathematical Sciences, Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, +46 (0)70 67 87 423, elin@chalmers.se

Photo:
Forsythia, with flowers. (Wikipedia, Creative Commons.)
Caption: Forsythias add colour to many Swedish gardens and benefit from their many stems.
 

BY:

News

  • Pilot with fast tracks for newcomers with research education

    [26 Jun 2017] The University of Gothenburg has initiated a project for newcomers with a refugee background, aiming at shortening the path to either complete a PhD-education or to a career within higher education. The project has been granted one million Swedish kronor by the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT).

  • Individual property rights reduce poverty and drives forest conservation in China

    [15 Jun 2017] When individuals in China get well-defined and protected property rights of using forest, conservation increases. So does people´s income from the forest, in particular when they have transfer rights to their forest land. This is a more effective way to reduce poverty and increase forest conservation than when rights remain in the hands of the state, or are given to a community in general. These are Yuanyuan Yi´s findings in her dissertation in economics at the School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg.

  • Great opportunities for marine research with new underwater vehicle

    [8 Jun 2017] The University of Gothenburg soon will have its first autonomous underwater vehicle for research use. This will make it possible to conduct detailed studies of the seabed at great depths and track the climate thousands of years back in time.

  • Newly discovered disease mechanism for type 2 diabetes

    [6 Jun 2017] A newly discovered mechanism behind reduced insulin production in type 2 diabetes is now being presented. In an article in Nature Communications, researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy describe how insulin-producing cells regress in their development, become immature, and do not work properly. A finding that opens the doors to new clinical treatments.

  • Improved accuracy when testing cancer drugs

    [2 Jun 2017] Method to more accurately test anti-cancer drugs have now been developed at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg. The method paves the way to much earlier assessment of who benefits from a specific drug and who does not.

More news

Page Manager: Webbredaktionen|Last update: 7/13/2012
Share:

The University of Gothenburg uses cookies to provide you with the best possible user experience. By continuing on this website, you approve of our use of cookies.  What are cookies?