Mortality amongst Plants


ON the Cretaceous plateau that occupies so much of East Devon (800 ft.–900 ft.) beech trees flourish in considerable numbers. The roads crossing the upland are separated from the adjoining enclosures by massive earth banks that are quite remarkable for their breadth and solidity, some being upwards of twelve feet in breadth and six to eight feet in height. On these banks beech trees usually grow, and in some instances form a continuous avenue. Between the roads and the banks are shallow ditches, and in the late spring the bottoms of these ditches are completely green with the first true leaves of seedling beech. None of these come to maturity, as they are browsed off by rabbits. Even in the enclosed ‘rough lands’ beech seedlings exist in abundance, but only where some protective environment occurs does the seedling achieve maturity. The mortality must be enormous.

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HARRIS, G. Mortality amongst Plants. Nature 126, 472 (1930).

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