B.A., University of Pennsylvania
M.E.Sc., Yale University
Examining plant root systems’ extraction of soil water is essential for understanding both the effect of plants on subsurface water and water-mediated plant competition. My research aims to quantify the effect of root system architecture on plants’ ability to extract water and compete effectively with others for this often-limiting resource. The methodological approaches taken include quantification of the topology and geometry of root systems, and 3D numerical simulations of root systems in competition for water under a variety of hydrological conditions.
Ultimately, the purpose of this research is to understand how the competitiveness of different root system morphotypes will influence the fitness of plant species under changing climatic and hydrological conditions. Such an understanding can be used on a local scale to predict shifts in plant community species composition and aid forest managers in establishing climate adaptation strategies; as well as on a global scale to help calibrate coupled land surface-atmoshpere models in a more sophisticated fashion with respect to water movement along the soil-vegetation-atmosphere continuum.