Rare plants can’t compete

The next time you’re outside, take a look at the plants around you. Notice anything?

There are probably an abundance of regular, run-of-the-mill species. If you’re like me, who only recognizes the most basic of plants (hey, an oak tree!), maybe you even know the names of some of these common species. What about rare, lesser-known plants? What makes rare species rare?

Our infographic this week delves into this question for grassland species in northeastern North America. It’s based on research published in Biodiversity and Conservation ($): Rareness starts early for disturbance-dependent grassland plant species.

Here’s a fun fact from the paper’s introduction to put this infographic into perspective: “Approximately 30% of rare plants … in northeastern N.A. are remnant prairie peninsula species with fewer than 35 remaining populations (New York Natural Heritage 2013). These same species are abundant in the relatively drier Midwestern (U.S.) habitats east of the Rocky Mountains where drought and fire limit trees and shrubs.

If plants are your thing, and especially if they aren’t your thing, check out the In Defense of Plants blog and podcast, created & hosted by the first author of this paper! There’s a podcast based on this research too, in case you can’t access the article.

Infographic PDF here.