The color of the goblets has changed so that they blend better with their background.
20.11. 18:00 | Updated 17:38
Gingerbread has been used in Chinese medicine to treat various breathing problems for thousands of years.
The plant has been collected for so long and so much that it has slowly developed a protective color to hide from humans.
That’s what it says Current Biology a recent study published in the journal.
Gingerbread (Fritillaria delavayi) grows in the rugged mountains of Hengduan in southwestern China, on the border with Tibet.
There is a huge variety of flora in the mountains. Thousands of different species grow in Hengduan and have been growing in the area for 30 million years. This is ScienceAccording to the journal, the world’s oldest continuously thriving alpine ecosystem.
A lot of plants are collected from the area, for example, for the use of Chinese medicine.
Researchers at the Kunming Institute of Botany as well as the University of Exeter have now found that goblet lilies blend into their environment much better in areas where it is collected the most.
By nature, the flower and leaves of the plant are greenish and the plant stands out clearly from the rocky terrain of the mountain slopes. But in areas where plants are picked in abundance, they are brownish or gray so that they are not very different from the background by the eye.
“It’s wild to see how humans can have such a dramatic impact on the color and evolution of natural organisms,” says Professor of Evolutionary Biology Martin Stevens From the University of Exeter in the bulletin.
Picardy lily is a perennial plant. Its leaves range in color from gray to brown and green, and after five years of growth, the plant begins to bloom once a year.
Among other things, the Chinese make various cough tropics from the plant. In recent years, the price of the plant has risen and is being collected more and more.
The researchers interviewed local people to find out from which areas goblets are collected the most and compared how different plant populations blend into their backgrounds.
They also did a small experiment where people had to distinguish goblets of different colors from photos on a computer. It took the subjects longer to observe the brown-leafed plants in the image, as might be expected.
“Are studied other plants with a mask color, and we thought that this color, too, has evolved to protect against herbivores. However, we did not find such animals. We realized that man is probably to blame, ”says the doctor Yang Niu Kunming Botanical Institute.
“Commercial collection of plants is a much greater selection pressure for plants [evoluutiossa] than many of the challenges of nature, ”says the professor Hang Sun..
Man has influenced the development of nature and the coloring of organisms in many ways. The industrial melanism observed in butterflies is downright a textbook example.
As England industrialized in the 19th century and the air was factory soot black, birch gauge butterflies also began to darken. The birch gauge is usually light to blend into the birch trunk.
But as the trees began to be covered in coal dust and the pale lichen disappeared, the white butterflies did stand out clearly and were eaten by predators. Dark butterflies survived and their genes spread in the population.
In the most contaminated areas, almost all birch gauges were soon dark. There is also industrial melanism in Finland due to air pollution.