Do Plants Want to Catch Fire?
Hey, science nerds. Here's a fascinating piece by Olivia Judson, an evolutionary biologist who is exceptionally good at making science interesting to those who don't necessarily know their way around science-journal lingo. The piece is about forest fires. Actually it's about different plant species and whether or not they are evolving to actually encourage these fires in a sort of plant version of survival of the fittest.It's a great read, and since it's that time of year when forest fires start to take over the news, it adds an extra element of interest to the perennial news story. Do these trees want to be torched?Writes Judson: "Many plants that live in places prone to fire are highly flammable - more flammable than plants that live elsewhere. This has led some to speculate that these plants have actually evolved to cause fires: that they "want" fire, and have evolved features that make it more likely that a spark will become a flame, and a flame will become a fire. I call this the torch-me hypothesis."