Using bottles to study shade responses of seedlings and other plants

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We briefly review the nature of light and its effects on plants, and then describe an inexpensive experimental system for studying the effects of shade, specifically the contributions of reduced intensity ("quantity") and the altered spectral distribution of foliage shade ("quantity") on the development of seedlings and other plants. This system has been devised to be safe to construct, inexpensive in its use of readily available materials, and appropriate for a range of student grade levels, from ~grade six to university courses in botany. We conclude by suggesting a range of experiments this system will allow. An advantage of this system is that it promotes the study of the responses of a large range of plants, most completely unstudied for these responses.

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