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Plant Behaviour and Intelligence$
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Anthony Trewavas

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199539543

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199539543.001.0001

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The self-organizing plant: lessons from swarm intelligence

The self-organizing plant: lessons from swarm intelligence

(p.93) Chapter 10 The self-organizing plant: lessons from swarm intelligence
Plant Behaviour and Intelligence

Anthony Trewavas

Oxford University Press

Self-organisation is a common terminology for describing biological phenomena. The developing brain and social insect colonies are used as examples. Small world networks are then described since these often underpin self-organisation. Patterns of behaviour and activity are generated without an overall plan or planner in self-organising systems. It is instead the interactions that generate order from the bottom upwards. Self-organising capabilities maintain the social insect colony, they enable its growth and adaptation towards external influences. Trees are perfect examples of self-organisation. There is no dictating overall plan or planner to control their growth and morphology. Robust behaviour may derive from modular development, obvious in trees and reflected in large numbers of colony workers in social insects. Flexibility results from being able to marshall groups of modules towards necessary objectives. Negative-feedback and feed-forward controls operate to maintain both colonies and trees. Self-organising systems are networks in which fairly simple rules between the components that make up the system, can give rise to quite complex behaviour. A comparative assessment draws attention to analogous forms of behaviour in social insect colonies and large perennials like trees. Amongst these are quorum sensing that underpins the making of decisions. Social insect behaviour is described as swarm intelligence. Since trees act like colonies although joined together, plant intelligence is a suitable term to describe their behaviour too.

Keywords:   Self-organisation, Small world networks, Social insect colonies, Tree behaviour, Quorum sensing and voting

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