Meadows more powerful than adjacent forests



Blue Lake Loop, Colorado, photo in the Public Domain


Implicit in every textbook account of vegetation succession is the assumption that there is a progression from herbaceous plants to trees over time and that this progression results in increasing biological power. In fact the opposite is as likely to be true: small plants have greater energy-intensity than large plants. From a perspective of thermodynamics, vegetation succession may therefore hide a degeneration of biological power behind the facade of increased body size, lifespan and biological complexity from short vegetation to tall vegetation.  
Robin and the Honey Badger, 8 January 2017