Ecological consequences of functional trait evolution

Knowing the causes of adaptation enables us to predict how plant form and function will change in response to novel selection generated by natural and anthropogenic changes to the environment. Because plant function directly influences plant performance and ecosystem productivity, we also experimentally evaluate how evolutionary change in characters such as photosynthetic capacity and plant responsiveness to the mycorrhizal symbiosis influence interspecific competition, community assembly and primary productivity. Improving our understanding of the evolutionary trajectory of plant function and its ecological consequences will ultimately strengthen predictions of how communities and ecosystems will respond to natural and anthropogenic changes.

Related publications (*Undergraduate, Graduate or #Postdoctoral advisee) :

Stanescu S., Maherali H. 2017. Mycorrhizal feedback is not associated with the outcome of competition in old-field perennial plants. Oikos, 126:248-258.

Poon G.T., Maherali H. 2015. Competitive interactions between a nonmycorrhizal invasive plant, Alliaria petiolata, and a suite of mycorrhizal grassland, old field, and forest species. PeerJ, 3:e1090; DOI 10.7717/peerj.1090.

*Thompson K.A., Husband B.C., Maherali H. 2015. No influence of water limitation on the outcome of competition between diploid and tetraploid Chamerion angustifolium (Onagraceae). Journal of Ecology, 103:733-741.

Anacker B.L., Klironomos J.N., Maherali H., Reinhart K., Strauss S.Y. 2014. Phylogenetic conservatism in plant responses to soil biota and its implications for plant abundance. Ecology Letters, 17:1613-1621.

Maherali H., Klironomos J.N. 2012. Phylogenetic and trait-based assembly of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities. PLoS ONE, 7(5):e36695.

Maherali H., Klironomos J.N. 2007. Influence of phylogeny on fungal community assembly and ecosystem functioning. Science, 316:1746-1748.