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Evidence for the Existence of Three Primary Strategies in Plants and Its Relevance to Ecological and Evolutionary Theory

It is suggested that evolution in plants may be associated with the emergence of three primary strategies, each of which may be identified by reference to a number of characteristics including morphological features, resource allocation, phenology, and response to stress. The competitive strategy prevails in productive, relatively undisturbed vegetation, the stress-tolerant strategy is associated with continuously unproductive conditions, and the ruderal strategy is characteristic of severely disturbed but potentially productive habitats. A triangular model based upon the three strategies may be reconciled with the theory of r- and K-selection, provides an insight into the processes of vegetation succession and dominance, and appears to be capable of extension to fungi and to animals.