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Plant reproductive success

Plants reproduce in a variety of ways, sometimes depending on animal behavior and specialized features for reproduction. Created by Sal Khan.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] We've already talked about reproductive success in other videos. It's related to the number of offspring an organism can have in its lifetime. And so in this video, we're going to think about strategies that plants will use for reproductive success. A plant that has more surviving offspring has a higher reproductive success. So one major strategy that plants use to increase their chances of reproduction is by leveraging animals for pollination. You have seen pollination. This is a picture of a bee gathering nectar from this flower, but as it gathers that nectar, pollen also gets attached to that bee. So as that bee goes from flower to flower, from plant to plant, it's able to pollinate, it's able to take pollen from one plant and give it to another plant, allowing for that genetic mixing to occur and also to then have more plant reproduction. Now, once a plant is able to reproduce, we also need to think about how viable its offspring are going to be. Are they in conditions where they are likely to succeed in living and then reproducing themselves? And here, a common strategy, or at least a category of strategies that plants use are known as seed dispersal. And it's really just trying to get the seeds in as many places as possible, potentially far away from the plant itself, to increase the chances that more of the seeds are going to be in places that are nutrient rich, where they can survive. And once again, you have likely seen this. This is a dandelion plant and when a strong wind blows, these dandelion seeds catch the wind because they have these structures which are not that aerodynamic, which pull the seeds along and can transport them for even miles and miles. Many of these seeds aren't going to end up in useful places, but some of them might, and they might be in places where the future dandelion offspring are more likely to survive and then reproduce themselves. But seed dispersal also gets the help of animals. This right over here is a picture of a bird eating fruit from a plant. And as that bird flies away and munches on that fruit, that seed might be dispersed, it might be thrown down hundreds of yards or even miles away from the original plant. In many cases, you might eat a fruit, and I am saying you, because we do this ourselves. You might eat, say, a watermelon or a papaya and a couple of seeds go down while you ate it. And then later on, you or some other animal might poop it someplace where it might be a good place for that watermelon plant or that papaya plant to grow. So this was just an overview of some of the strategies that plants use, but it's important to realize that throughout nature, we see this idea of reproductive success over and over again, and in animals' behaviors or strategies for reproductive success, and here we saw plants' strategies for reproductive success.