After a busy couple of months doing final revisions and checking proofs for two manuscripts co-authored with stellar undergraduates from the Burns Lab at CWRU, I was happy to find that both manuscripts went online yesterday!
First, in an experiment that manipulated the timing of plant establishment in competition between congeners, we found evidence for plasticity in two functional traits that is consistent with predictions for adaptive trait plasticity in some species, where the later-establishing plant’s trait values would maximize resource capture. The type of plastic response — either a difference between late- vs. early-establishing plants of the same species or divergence in trait values between potmates — differed by genus. Moreover, divergence in specific leaf area between potmates positively correlated with combined biomass of those potmates, consistent with putatively adaptive trait plasticity. This work, co-authored with Conor Leahy and Nicole Zimmerman as well as Dr. Jean Burns, is now published in Oecologia. Nicole has now completed a Master’s degree in biostatistics from the University of Michigan and I especially appreciated her help with the statistical analysis in this paper.
Second, in a paper led by Gaston del Pino and now published in Plant Ecology, we show evidence for functional trait plasticity in response to experimentally-manipulated heterogeneity in both the above- and belowground environment (light and soil heterogeneity, respectively). We found that above- and belowground heterogeneity can interact to affect trait expression. We also found non-additive effects of mixing soils of two origins (i.e. collected from the zone of root influence of different plant species in the field), which is consistent with findings in my previous work with Dr. Burns (here and here).