Suggestions for more meaningful collection, processing, and interpretation of temperature data are offered. Our silggestions are based upon characteristics of the organism under study. Research on plant-temperature interactions is reviewed and another approach is illustrated. Temperature data, collected near shoots and roots of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) seedlings in different field situations, were assembled from computer-processed temperature traces. From laboratory studies in which day and night air and soil temperatures were controlled, potential seedling growth each day during a growing season was assessed. Then, by summation, a physiological index, expressed in equivalent units, was calculated to relate the possible effect of the field temperatures to plant distribution. This index was used to interpret the effect of temperature on the distribution of vegetation and patterns of leaf initiation in the field. The importance of interactions with the other environmental factors of moisture, chemicals, light, and mechanical forces is mentioned.
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