While all plants use the common resources of light, water, and nutrients for growth, there is great diversity among species in rates of use and mix of inputs. Much of this diversity is thought to reflect the evolutionary diversification of a few key traits in response to frequency-dependent resource competition. The aim of this project is to investigate how competition for light leads to such evolution, diversification, and coexistence of a range of growth strategies in environments with repeated disturbance. Plant growth will be modeled based on well understood physiology, with competition between individuals giving a fitness advantage to strategies able to pre-empt light availability through height growth. The phenotypic evolution of two traits, growth rate and height at reproductive maturity, will then be explored. In particular, I will investigate: (1) whether an initially monomorphic population undergoes evolutionary branching, (2) if multiple strategies can coexist at the evolutionarily endpoint, and (3) whether the dynamics lead to correlated evolutionary divergences of traits across species.
Last edited: 25 March 2016
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