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Smith Lab News

April 12, 2021: Abigail's paper published in Rangeland Ecology & Management

Former lab undergraduate research student, Abigail Bell, had her first authored paper from her time in the lab published in Rangeland Ecology and Management. The paper examines changes in growth and nutrient status of four forage grasses to a soil salinity gradient. Abigail found that the responses were highly species specific. By outlining these responses, the paper provides recommendations for species selection by land owners looking to restore saline lands.

You can access the full paper on the journal's website at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550742421000348.

Congrats Abigail!!

April 10, 2021: Fieldwork!!

After a long hiatus, the lab made it out to the field today to fertilize our Nutrient Network sites. It was a beautiful day and we had lots of fun trampling through the spring prairie.

March 24, 2021: New paper out in Ecology Letters on the impact of an allelopathic invaded on plant economic traits

Nick collaborated with a group of researchers from the University of Tennessee, led by Lalasia Bialic-Murphy, to examine the impact of an allelopathic invader on plant economic traits. The invader, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). The allelochemicals produced by garlic mustard disrupt the native plant-fungal symbioses. This disruption caused shifts in the plant economic traits suggesting that invasion was increasing the cost of nutrient uptake by the native plants. In response, the plants shifted to a greater water use to maintain carbon assimilation at a lower nutrient use. These shifts are predicted by least cost theory. The study is one of the first to show these dynamics playing out in an invasion context.

You can find the paper in Early View at Ecology Letters.

March 9, 2021: Jose presents his honors work on herbarium leaf C:N

Lab undergradaute student Jose Villeda created a YouTube presentation detailing the results of his honors thesis work examining the drivers of leaf carbon:nitrogen rations (C:N) in herbarium samples from the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Jose found that elevation was the strongest predictor of C:N, with trends following those expected from theory. Specifically, he found that increases in elevation increased leaf investment in N, resulting in lower measured C:N, regardless of plant type.

Bravo to Jose, for completing his first conference presentation. Also, he put it together despite a short timeline (3 weeks less than anticipated!). Throughout the rest of the semester, we hope to bolster the dataset by sampling more specimens. The data will be combined with other trait data on stomata, as well as DNA information. We hope to get out to GUMO later this year to do a resampling. Given that the original samples were from the 1970s, this will give us a really cool snapshot of how plant functional traits have changed over time at the park!

You can view Jose's presentation at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPK8tCn34Ho.

February 24, 2021: The lab is looking for a new postdoc in plant ecophysiology!

The lab has a funded postdoctoral research assistantship in plant ecophysiology. For more information, please check out the Opportunities page as well as the the full job ad, which has details on how to apply.

January 1, 2021: Last year in review

2020 was definitely an odd one. Despite the difficulties brought on by the pandemic, we were able to keep sciencing, albeit at a slightly reduced speed. Some highlights include Risa successfully defending her thesis!! 8 new publications, lab group member presentations at virtual versions of ESA, Botany, Plant Biology (ASPB), and AGU conferences. Well done all!

On to 2021!