Junior Group - Plant allocation patterns
‘allocation is basically a partitioning of fluxes to specific destinations’ Kooijman, Phil.Trans.R.Soc.Lond.B (2001)
All plants have a limited amount of time to acquire enough resources (light, water and nutrients) to maximise their individual performance, which is to grow, survive and ultimately reproduce. During their life span, performance at a given site may either be facilitated or hampered by biotic and abiotic factors. For example, individual light acquisition may be impeded by competing species, and soil nutrient limitation may limit growth rates. The allocation of biomass and nutrients to specific plant organs plays a role as a plant strategy and has effects on ecosystem properties like decomposition and productivity.
This junior group studies the allocation patterns of plants. The main emphasis is to disentangle intrinsic determinations of functionally different plant organs from the effects of the abiotic environment. Understanding the responses of plants to the environment, their trait-trait relationships and ultimately their effects on ecosystem properties is crucial for understanding ecosystem processes per se and allows predictions of consequences of changing environment like increases in sea level rise or decreases in precipitation.
Our group applies advanced statistical methods like bivariate line fitting and structural equation models, which have been proven excellent tools for analysing the research questions at hand.
Our research questions include:
Which are the intrinsic rules that govern allocation of biomass and nutrients between plant organs and which patterns are governed by abiotic site conditions?
Which plant strategies can be derived from trait-trait relationships?
Do congeneric species differ in their trait-plasticity along the same environmental gradient and does this explain patterns of plant invasions?