Our lab focuses on the role that biodiversity plays in different ecosystems. Does biodiversity help buffer against some of the most negative effects of climate change? Why are higher diversity communities more resilient to drought?
We focus on the facilitative interactions between neighboring plant species that may improve plant community performance. For example, some drought resistant plant species may be capable of photosynthesizing even on very hot and dry days. Other species may experience water stress and turn off their photosynthetic apparatus. When plants are photosynthesizing they lose water, and this cools the air around them, due to evaporative cooling. This can improve the microclimate conditions of their neighbors. Higher diversity plant communities may harbor more strategies for dealing with environmental stress. In some cases, the plants that possess these strategies may physically alter the environment in such a way that makes local microclimate conditions hospitable for neighboring individuals and improves overall plant community performance.
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