Tuesday, October 23, 2018 - 4:00pm
Dr. Caroline Farrior
Assistant Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin
Plant Traits and the Importance of Individual-based Competition
Competition among individuals and across species has long been recognized as an important driver of plant form and function. Few concepts in ecology are as classic and appealing as the concept of "a ghost of competition past" (Connell 1980). This idea has served us well in explaining and understanding how competition causes diversification of strategies by rewarding differing species with freedom from the pressure of competition. Diversification by niche differentiation is not always possible, however. Competition for essential resources whose availability are structured in a way that leaves little room for partitioning may not lead to diversification and relaxation of competition, but rather intensification of the competition through tragedies of the commons.
Here I will discuss how such competitive evolutionary races can explain patterns in plants allocation strategies, size structure of trees, and the ubiquity of competition for belowground resources among plants.