Agave is Life
In his reply to William Rothenstein's invitation to give a talk to a village society in March 1914 Francis Darwin suggested the title of the lecture to be 'On the Aliveness of plants' over the proposed one: 'The Life of the Plants'. This slight correction greatly illustrates the fascination of the botanist members of the Darwin family, Erasmus (1731–1802), his grandson Darwin (1809–82) and great grandson Francis (1848–1925), by the movements of plants as they seek light, nutrients and water. This period was the beginning of the scientific understanding of plant growth when botany finally freed itself from medicine and emerged as an independent science, founded on measurement and experiment.
Plants have determined man's history and they will determine his future.
Peter Ayres, The Aliveness of Plants:The Darwins at the Dawn of Plant Science, 2008.
Three centuries later, in the (coming) age of biology, when we are rapidly losing biodiversity, when natural ecosystems are degrading and disappearing, and climate change has become our new reality, plants upon which all other life depends, have never been more important. We should never again take plants for granted, these amazing agents of maintaining the atmosphere, storing carbon and producing oxygen, providing food and energy, informers on evolution and genetics. And what would we know about the life of plants without the botanists, scientists working on taxonomy, phylogeny and evolution, anatomy and morphology or physiology of plants, as well as the contributors to the preservation of biodiversity.
We (botanists) are discovering, documenting and educating others, those who can not see or know the things we study, and we are doing it for the future generations. Croatia is at the top of the list among European countries by richness of biodiversity. The ecosystems of the open sea islands are especially interesting because they are extremely preserved due to the isolation and distance from the mainland, not being so threatened by pollution, urbanization or mixing with other mainland species. Previously being mountainous areas, they mark the places where plants 'escaped' from the migration of sea and ice age. We could say they are trapped there in time and space, being witnesses of long term evolutionary processes, records of the past yet so important for the future. Our open sea islands are oases of biodiversity and authenticity of species, slowly becoming a rarity in the Mediterranean area. We have to preserve it because without (bio)diversity, ultimately, complete destruction will follow.
We are diversity.Sandro Bogdanović on biodiversity and his homeland, island of Vis, 2021.
Assoc. Prof. University of Zagreb, Faculty of Agriculture, PhD
Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity and Molecular Plant Breeding