Field of Science

What does the Phytophactor study?

Hmm, a curious reader has sent this query to the Phytophactor's mail bag. This is an easy question in the general, but it gets harder in the specific. Most generally, the Phactor's academic alter ego is a student of botany and science education whose publication record extends back into the mid-1970s. Mostly the research has concerned floral form and function, especially tropical flowers that employee beetles as pollinators. Floral development has also been a research area. Both have largely been done when time and money allow. In a lateral transfer of interest, one study of floral development led into a study of hemiparasitic plants (They're both green and parasites, which sort of makes you wonder, right?) in a prairie community, which is tricky because these plants interact on two different levels, and so far have proven far from cooperative. Things are complicated out their in the real world, and you have to wonder if neat little pot studies, using easy to grow weeds, so nice, so controlled, are actually telling us anything real. Without critters tearing or eating up your treatments, your data is probably too clean, too neat, too significant, and the real world sniffs at your error bars, and knows real science is done in the field. Beyond this general level the ideas, the hypotheses being tested, require a quite bit more in the way of explanation. Some studies deal with phylogenetic questions (lineages of common ancestry), some deal with adaptations and reproduction, and some deal with ecological ideas, so all are fundamentally evolutionary.

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