Skip to main content

Shade avoidance and Zahavi's handicap principle in dense plant populations

Buy Article:

$51.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


I propose that tall plants ‘show off’ and that the shade avoidance syndrome is a case of spectral communication among plants in dense populations, enabling the operation of Zahavi's handicap principle in plants. The costly signal triggering shade avoidance is composed of: (1) the far-red (FR) irradiation that plants emit as a by-product of photosynthesis, and (2) the phytochromes and the down-stream factors that respond to phytochrome signalling that evolved to analyse the FR emission and respond. This is a special case of a complex system serving as a signal. Because various types and levels of shade avoidance are common in most, if not all, dense plant populations, it seems that the operation of Zahavi's handicap principle in plants is a common phenomenon. Although plants do not see, they can use light for interplant communication about their relative strength. Unlike the many types of species-specific operations of Zahavi's handicap principle in animals, the handicap signal in plants is not species-specific, like prey–predator interactions. This difference probably stems from the fact that plants are sessile, have no animal-like vision, and compete with individuals of many other species.  © 2005 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2005, 84, 313–319.

Keywords: competition; dominant individuals; far red; height growth; phytochrome; trees

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004


Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
ingentaconnect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more
Real Time Web Analytics