Trying to find a Relationship between sunlight and plants

For an independent research product I’m focusing on biodiversity especially the relationship between presence of sunlight in relation to the species of a plant. I have been taking a bunch of pictures of plants, recording their species and if there was a lot of light that they were exposed to.

After doing so I have become stuck on finding any pattern between sunlight amount and the correlation plants species.

Is there another topic on plants I should focus or can focusing on plant species work?

Any help or suggestion would be great. Thank you


honestly, i don’t understand what you’re asking for here.

what does this mean? are you having trouble analyzing your data? are you not seeing a difference between different species and environmental sunlight? are you having trouble deciding where to go next with your research?

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Yes! I am stuck on how to move foward

okay, but where are you trying to move forward from? what do your data so far show?

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I recorded the species of different plants. Some that got a lot of Sun and some that did not.

I am having trouble analyzing that data to see if I can I find a pattern to show how different species exist for different amount of sunlight

Is it best to research about each species and see if there any common characteristics?

I do not know what specific info you are looking for, so I’ll comment generally. There are many species of plants on earth. Many green plants need sunlight for photosynthesis. Plants evolve or adapt to an environment. There are plant species that actually do not do photosynthesis. It may be partly or almost never. The seedlings spend some part of their lives underground living in a symbiotic relationship with specific fungi. example ground orchids, but they have green leaves. Some are parasitic plants that feeds on the roots of a host tree, they do not have leaves, example: Rafflesia. The majority of plants we see have leaves. Some plants may be adaptable to a range of sun exposure from full sun to very shaded environments or even inundated in flood waters for months. While some plants are only able to survive in a relatively narrow range of parameters. There are plants that live on the forest floor, and get leaf burn easily if exposed to full sun.example: philodendrons. There are plants which seems like obligate sun loving plants. They cannot survive indoor. eg Many grass species, lavenders? There are several other factors that cause indoor plants to die. The other factors are air circulation and water content in the medium.
Companies in horticulture and agriculture have knowledge on how their plants grow. They know the amount of light in the greenhouse. They know how their plants respond to a combination of water and fertilizer, air circulation, for optimum growth and profits. This is the same for food crops grown in the fields.
There are research in C3, C4 plants, CAM photosynthesis, info can be found in wikipedia. CAM is Crassulacean acid metabolism. The mechanisms are complex though.
In summary, there is definitely a relationship between sunlight and plants.


Thank you. This is very helpful.

Most plants can adapt to different levels of sunlight, for example their chloroplasts actively move within the cell: in excessive sunlight they position themselves close to the walls as not to get burnt, in shade they cluster in the middle to catch sunlight more efficiently. A lot of wild plants you find in the city (if you’re recording info in the city) are often considered “weeds”, they are adapted to all sorts of conditions and may grow equally well in shade and in sunlight.
In sunlight plant leaves can develop a purple tint due to large amount of the pigments anthocyanins being synthesized, if that’s helpful to you. For example this can be seen in Lamium album and in dandelions, and many other plants.

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So, regarding data collection. Generally it’s a good idea to have some notion of what sort of questions you’re interested in before you start collecting data. The questions you’re asking help to inform what sort of data needs to be collected. Without that it’s often pretty difficult to figure out that the information you collected can actually be used for.

All that said, some of the things that sunlight influences at the individual plant level (rather than species level): leaf size, how light/dark the leaf is, direction the plant grows, (for some understory plants) how high they grow (understory canopy layers are often influenced and partially determined by the region that gets maximum sunlight when sunrays through the day are combined), leaf density (ie, how open or closed the collection of leaves grows), overall growth structure (eg, wide and broad, or narrow and tall).

At the species level some of these remain the same, but there are other factors that come into play in the long run, but often those are traits that are determined by a range of things, not only evolutionary adaptations to sunlight.

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I think you could continue on with this topic (you’ll learn a lot!), but to arrive at useful data/interesting patterns, you’ll need to make it more specific. You have a general idea of interest: the relationship between sun exposure and plant species. This is a very broad topic, because there are so many variables involved. Most plants species have specific adaptations to greater or lesser sun exposure, which make them more or less likely to grow in a location based on the sun exposure in that spot. In addition, the light conditions in a given spot change over time as plants grow and compete with each other for light, so the light exposure for any plant is dynamic.

Have you read much on photosynthesis and transpiration? A basic knowledge of those processes should be your starting point, along with some general understanding of plant growth. All the plant species you’re studying will be driven by their to need to photosynthesize to access sunlight- they all just approach it with their own strategies.

What type of pattern were you predicting you might find? Do you expect to find certain species only in sun and others only in shade? Or did you expect a mix? If so, why? Are there physical features of the leaves that you would expect the sun or shade plants to share?

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