Ecology and evolution of plant reproduction

Flowering plants display an extraordinary diversity of sexual systems and floral form. We use a combination of ecological and genetic approaches to clarify the mechanisms behind the evolution of sex allocation, floral display and flower morphology. This includes studies of how variation in floral characters influences pollinator visitation, pollen transfer, and plant reproductive success, and of the genetic basis of variation in floral morphology.

Habitat fragmentation is considered one of the most serious environmental threats to the long-term survival of a large number of plant and animal species. As a result of habitat fragmentation, many species now occur in small and isolated populations. This is of great concern because there are a number of demographic and genetic factors that should contribute to making such populations more prone to extinction than large populations. In a couple of ongoing projects, we seek to determine the effects of population size, density and degree of isolation on biotic interactions, seed production, and plant population dynamics. This information is crucial for the development of realistic, spatially explicit models of population dynamics in plants, and for our ability to predict the consequences of habitat fragmentation and changes in land use.

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