Journal Article

In a green frame of mind: perspectives on the behavioural ecology and cognitive nature of plants

Monica Gagliano

in AoB PLANTS

Published on behalf of Annals of Botany Company

Volume 7, issue
Published online November 2015 | e-ISSN: 2041-2851 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plu075

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Plant Evolution
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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It is increasingly recognized that plants are highly sensitive organisms that perceive, assess, learn, remember, resolve problems, make decisions and communicate with each other by actively acquiring information from their environment. However, the fact that many of the sophisticated behaviours plants exhibit reveal cognitive competences, which are generally attributed to humans and some non-human animals, has remained unappreciated. Here, I will outline the theoretical barriers that have precluded the opportunity to experimentally test such behavioural/cognitive phenomena in plants. I will then suggest concrete alternative approaches to cognition by highlighting how (i) the environment offers a multitude of opportunities for decision-making and action and makes behaviours possible, rather than causing them; (ii) perception in itself is action in the form of a continuous flow of information; (iii) all living organisms viewed within this context become agents endowed with autonomy rather than objects in a mechanistically conceived world. These viewpoints, combined with recent evidence, may contribute to move the entire field towards an integrated study of cognitive biology.

Keywords: Affordances; agency; consciousness; decision-making; kin selection; learning; memory; perception.

Journal Article.  4901 words. 

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Plant Evolution ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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