Dr Annabel Smith, from UQ's School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, and Professor Yvonne Buckley, from UQ's School of Biological Sciences and Trinity College Dublin Ireland, studied the humble plantain (Plantago lanceolate) to see how it became one of the world's most successfully distributed plant species.
"The plantain, a small plant native to Europe, has spread wildly across the globe -- we needed to know why it's been so incredibly successful, even in hot, dry climates," Dr Smith said.
Team - Ecologists - Monitoring - Sites - Countries
The global team of 48 ecologists set up 53 monitoring sites in 21 countries, tagged thousands of individual plants, tracked plant deaths and new seedlings, counted flowers and seeds and looked at DNA to see how many individual plants have historically been introduced outside Europe.
What they discovered went against existing tenets of ecological science.
Bit - 'rules - Ecology - Species - Dr
"We were a bit shocked to find that some of the 'rules of ecology' simply didn't apply to this species," Dr Smith said.
"Ecologists use different theories to understand how nature works -- developed and tested over decades with field research -- these are the so-called 'rules'.
Theories - Diversity - Variation - Genes - DNA
"One of these theories describes how genetic diversity or variation in genes embedded in DNA are produced by changes in population size.
"Small populations tend to have...
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