Sunday, July 23, 2006

 

Darwin's steps map flower changes

Three generations of Charles Darwin's descendants have replicated their great grandfather's 150-year-old survey near his old home, Down House, in Kent.

Between then and now, the number of plant species in Great Pucklands meadow has declined by 15%.

Changes in farm practice are believed to be behind the decline.

Darwin's observations in the meadow contributed to the development of the natural selection theory in his seminal book On The Origin of Species.

Darwin recorded 142 plant species in the meadow, which is just behind Down House, in 1855.

'While scientists tend to focus on rare or unusual species, we have studied what is in essence a rather ordinary piece of grassland,' said Johannes Vogel, keeper of botany at the Natural History Museum, one of the scientists involved in replicating the study.

'It is this ordinariness that makes it significant.'

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