Hafiz Maherali

Email Address
[email protected]
Research Description

We study the evolution of plant function and how they affect the ecological functioning of populations, communities and ecosystems. More specificaly, we seek to undertand how and why plant functional traits evolve, and how these traits influence the outcome of ecological interactions in ecological communities.

Research Summary

We study the evolution of plant function and its mechanistic links to the ecological functioning of populations, communities and ecosystems.A classic problem in biology is explaining why some areas of ‘phenotypic space’ are occupied, whereas others are empty. In other words, why have organisms evolved certain forms and functions and not others? Another major challenge is explaining the processes that shape the assembly of ecological communities. We know that communities are not usually random collections of species, but identifying the causes that structure communities is still an area of considerable debate. My lab links these questions using a plant functional trait perspective. We study how and why plant functional traits evolve, and how these traits influence the outcome of ecological interactions that are known to shape community assembly, such as competition and mutualism. To do this work, we use several approaches, including comparative analyses among populations and species, observations of natural selection in the wild, and experimental studies that manipulate the identity of selective agents experienced by populations. We explore how traits influence community assembly and ecosystem function by carrying out experimental studies in controlled environments and in the field.

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