I recently explored -spheres. Today, I serendipitiously stepped into some more spheric words, and plain plane additions.
-plane stands for flat surface, that’s its a latine root. (The French words is a figurative for daydreaming, or since the sixties, for being high). So, since spheres are a good figurative for a gross volume, it may deceitfully convey the message biological interactions can be rounded at places. Leaves are mostly flat (save the juicy succulents), so that any -plane would best reflect the actual ecological space of plant/microbes interactions…
So we are putting in another specific to these places where micro and macro interfere: the phylloplane. That’s probably more restrictive than the phyllosphere. Here’s the def, once more quoting from a paper*:
Phylloplane.-The surface of an unshed leaf. The pbyllosphere is the open space around a leaf that has a microclimate strongly affected by that leaf. (…) proposed the term caulosphere to refer to the open space next to a bare branch surface strongly affected by the branch’s presence, ramosphere to refer in a similar fashion to the space around a branch bearing humus or epiphytes, and aerosphere to refer to the remaining air spaces within a canopy.
First, how does it translate in current jargon use in science, compared to phyllosphere?
As for today, google.scholar finds out 7810 papers using phylloplane (31 for 2013 already), compared to 9660 using phyllosphere (68 in 2013 already). Clearly, both words are at use, maybe in conflict. 2170 papers are using both terms though (11 in 2013 already), but a quick look reveal that the reason these two words finds their way in the same paper is born out of referencing work (therefore, both are used because of citation of other work). Other times, they seem to appear in text as synonyms. There may well be competition between the two words.
An interesting prospect would be to try to relate use of one word and lack of the second (that’s respectively for 5640 & 8490 papers). Why would scientist do that? By choice? In case this is just “not knowing about the alternative”, would that stem from subdisciplines within which one word is preferred over the other? Do people miss interesting papers because they use only one keyword or would this really happen because studies really don’t intersect? Hum… I won’t interpret this.
Second, you can see that we are offered other delicious words: ramosphere & aerosphere (to which we can add phytosphere, which is the sum of the spheres around a plant). Are these terms in good terms with science pratice? Here it is: 6 hints with ramosphere, 871 with aerosphere (5 in 2013 already), and a greater 1770 for phytospere (13 in 2013 already!). Clearly if you aim for a research niche, where easy stuff is to be discovered just because less work has been done, you’d go for the ramosphere…
Just take note that equivalencies are lacking: there’s no such thing as a ramoplane, and aeroplane yields flight and aerospace science (huge success!) and not ecology!1! Phytoplane doesn’t do it neither, and so are cormoplane, cauloplane, caluplane, anthoplane, carpoplane and spermoplane… But see, that’s probably why phyllosphere has a greater use than phylloplane: it is linked to a greater conceptual framework (the -spheres!) even if it is mathematically dubious that all these are actual spheres at stake. But to -plane people, it is important to see leaves as the flats they are, even if stems may also be flat (cauloplane may exist!) or fruits (carpoplanes) or seeds (spermoplanes). But all these would be exceptions and really smaller subsets among all stems and fruits and seeds, while leaves that are not flat but more spheric are the exceptions. Words are constrained by the concept they covers, and there’s a trend in the human mind to make it fit our wordview, irrespective of impact. Like tomatoes’ tackle take.
* Moffett, M. W. (2000), What’s “Up”? A Critical Look at the Basic Terms of Canopy Biology. Biotropica, 32: 569–596. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2000.tb00506.x