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A comparison of plants and animals in their responses to risk of consumption.


Both plants and animals reduce their risk of being eaten by detecting and responding to herbivore and predator cues. Plants tend to be less mobile and rely on more local information perceived with widely dispersed and redundant tissues. As such, plants can more easily multi-task. Plants are more tolerant of damage and use damage to their own tissues as reliable cues of risk; plants have a higher threshold before responding to the threat of herbivory. Plants also use diverse cues that include fragments of plant tissue and molecular patterns from herbivores, herbivore feeding, or microbial associates of herbivores. Instead of fleeing from attackers, plants reallocate valuable resources to organs at less risk. They minimize unnecessary defenses against unrealized risks and costs of failing to defend against actual risk. Plants can remember and learn, although these abilities are poorly understood.

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