Major Advisor: Amy Iler, PhD
Research: How does natural variation in flowering phenology affect reproductive success?
Research Interests: flowering phenology; plant-animal interactions; community ecology; reproductive biology; climate change; maternal inheritance
The phenology, or the timing of major life history events, is fundamental for the reproduction and survival of most organisms. For instance, plant species that flower earlier than others may gain higher reproductive advantages with immediate access to space, pollinator services, and water/nutrient resources. In contrast, earlier (or later) flowering times may also put species at a reproductive disadvantage by increasing their exposure to unfavorable abiotic conditions, herbivory, or competition from neighboring plant species. Furthermore, timing may be particularly important for shorter-lived individuals, like spring ephemerals, whose reproductive windows are already constrained.
To test whether there are reproductive differences in earlier or later flowering time, my study uses the Illinois-native spring ephemeral, Claytonia virginica (Portulacaceae) L. My study implements observational field studies that focus on flower production, pollinator activity, and abiotic conditions and combines them with laboratory and greenhouse methods that look at seed production and viability. Viability is measured in two ways: the presence/absence of formed embryos during seed x-ray analyses as well as the seed’s ability to germinate under controlled greenhouse settings. I am also interested in seeing if there are any life history links between the timing/conditions of when the maternal plant underwent anthesis and the timing of when its seeds germinate (i.e. maternal inheritance).
Understanding how reproductive success may vary in relation to flowering time may give us important insight to how plant populations may respond to climate change-driven phenological shifts as well as allow us to make more informed seed-sourcing decisions.
Attempting to tag a Claytonia flower with the date it opened… these flowers are very small and delicate!
Illinois State Academy of Science Travel Grant 2018
Illinois Native Plant Society Research Grant 2018
PBC Research Grant 2018
PBC Travel Grant 2018
Shaw Fellowship 2017