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    Plant Evolution: Wildflower Experiment

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    An ecologist studying desert plants performed the following experiment:

    She staked out two identical plots that included a few sagebrush plants and numerous small annual wildflowers. She found the same five wildflower species in similar numbers in both plots. Then she enclosed one of the plots with a fence to keep out kangaroo rats, the most common herbivores in the area.

    After two years, four species of wildflowers were no longer present in the fenced plot, but one wildflower species increased dramatically. The unfenced control plot had not changed significantly in species composition.

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    Solution Preview

    The ecologist performed the experiment and found the following:

    Control plot: had five wildflower species
    Experimental plot (with no kangaroo rats): had one wildflower species

    The only difference between the two plots was the presence or absence of ...