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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2016 Aug;32:69-76. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2016.06.015. Epub 2016 Jul 12.

Communicative interactions involving plants: information, evolution, and ecology.

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Department of Environmental Systems Science, Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH Zürich, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland. Electronic address:
Department of Evolution & Ecology, University of California, Davis, United States. Electronic address:


The role of information obtained via sensory cues and signals in mediating the interactions of organisms with their biotic and abiotic environments has been a major focus of work on sensory and behavioral ecology. Information-mediated interactions also have important implications for broader ecological patterns emerging at the community and ecosystem levels that are only now beginning to be explored. Given the extent to which plants dominate the sensory landscapes of terrestrial ecosystems, information-mediated interactions involving plants should be a major focus of efforts to elucidate these broader patterns. Here we explore how such efforts might be enhanced by a clear understanding of information itself-a central and potentially unifying concept in biology that has nevertheless been the subject of considerable confusion-and of its relationship to adaptive evolution and ecology. We suggest that information-mediated interactions should be a key focus of efforts to more fully integrate evolutionary biology and ecology.

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