Research Areas

We commonly use the tools of plant physiological ecology and root biology to study important areas including climatic change, ecosystem ecology, root ecology and fruit crop physiology. We work in many kinds of experimental systems, from greenhouse and growth chamber studies to common garden plantings and natural plant communities at remote field sites.
Common garden for belowground research

Common garden for belowground research

Research in climate change concerns how environmental factors such as climatic warming and changing variability in precipiation can affect shoot and root phenology, plant productivity and carbon cycling. We also are interested how individual plant species may respond to climate change factors.

Plants vary enormously in the morphology and physiology of their roots. We have only begun to understand the diversity in root form and function and the major role they play in ecosystem processes. Studies are conducted under controlled greenhouse and growth chamber conditions as well as common garden plantings in the field and natural patterns in the plant communities.

The processes affecting carbon sequestration, nutrient and carbon cycling, hydrology and decomposition are poorly understood, especially below ground. We are using the tools of physiological ecology and root biology to better understand ecosystem processes.

Research into the environmental physiology of fruit crops and temperate trees requires the integration of both basic and applied aspects of plant physiology. There is an increased need to be able to predict the effects of horticultural and forest practices such as thinning, pruning, fertilization and irrigation on tree carbon allocation, nutrient and water uptake, root and shoot growth, and fruit production and quality.