Further to “The intelligence of the chicken “startles”? (with the suggestion that a chicken bred to be not-meat is likely to be smarter than a chicken bred to be meat), it turns out that plants can communicate in some ways as well.
Researchers are unearthing evidence that, far from being unresponsive and uncommunicative organisms, plants engage in regular conversation. In addition to warning neighbors of herbivore attacks, they alert each other to threatening pathogens and impending droughts, and even recognize kin, continually adapting to the information they receive from plants growing around them. Moreover, plants can “talk” in several different ways: via airborne chemicals, soluble compounds exchanged by roots and networks of threadlike fungi, and perhaps even ultrasonic sounds. Plants, it seems, have a social life that scientists are just beginning to understand.
That maple trees communicate was known for decades, but the teachings of the prophet Darwin got in the way:
In 1983, plant scientists Jack Schultz and Ian Baldwin reported that intact maple tree saplings ramped up their defense systems when exposed to herbivore-damaged maples. The injured trees, they suggested, were alerting neighbors to the presence of a predator by releasing chemical signals into the air. But the plant research community didn’t buy it. The results were difficult to replicate, critics pointed out, and many questioned how a trait that benefits neighboring plants but not the emitter could be evolutionarily stable. By the late 1980s, “most ecologists felt these ideas had been debunked and that it was time to move on,” says Karban.
Research persisted, despite the fact that “researchers who doubt that plants would have evolved to be altruistic have ruminated on the old question of the evolutionary origins of the phenomenon” (= Darwin’s followers wasted everyone’s time) and “the evolutionary explanation for volatile communication among plants remains open to debate” (= if Darwin’s followers aren’t happy, science stops). So:
“Individual compounds are the words,” says Jarmo Holopainen, an ecologist at the University of Eastern Finland, “and these words are combined to make specific sentences.” Unfortunately, he adds, researchers know little about what these volatile signals mean to a plant and how they are perceived. “We’ve made very little progress in deciphering this chemical code.” More.
It will be difficult, unfortunately, to openly make progress, one suspects, until some flimflam is thunk up to explain how it all evolved in the manner specified by Darwin’s followers. That might take a while, since it obviously didn’t happen that way. In fact, in this vid on forest ecology, the researcher says something most interesting about the orthodox Darwinian view: