The Fritillaria delavay, a plant that lives on the rocky slopes of the Hengduan Mountains of China and is used in traditional medicine in this country, has evolved to become less visible to humans.
This study, conducted by the Kunming Institute of Botany (Chinese Academy of Sciences) and the University of Exeter, has found that this plant more closely resembles its surroundings in heavily harvested areas, which suggests that humans are “driving” the evolution of this species towards new forms of color because better camouflaged plants have a greater chance of survival.
Professor Martin Stevens, of the Center for Ecology and Conservation on Exeter’s Penryn campus, reports Eureka Alert. has expressed that “it is remarkable to see how humans can have such a direct impact and dramatic in the coloration of wild organisms, not only in their survival but in their own evolution “.
In the new study, the researchers measured how closely plants from different populations matched their mountainous surroundings and how easy they were to collect, and they spoke with local people to estimate how much collection took place at each location. With what they discovered that the level of camouflage in the plants was correlated with the harvest levels.