UC researchers look into what makes plant communities tick

A team of University of Canterbury (UC) scientists and overseas collaborators are working to find out what makes diverse plant communities like New Zealand’s iconic grasslands tick and what allows so many competing species to co-exist?

To do this, UC Associate Professor Daniel Stouffer says they need to go back to basics.

“We want to change the way people understand how plants compete and how we measure what happens – the models and approaches we’ve been using haven’t really changed for at least 100 years,” he says.

Long-term, with the aid of a Marsden Grant for $795,000, the researchers hope their work will lead to better management and protection of our ecosystems.

If these sorts of ecosystems are to be managed and  their complete collapse avoided, Associate Professor Stouffer says, “we need to understand the very basic things, and the strategies they’re using to solve these problems are usually the best place to start.”

He discusses his research project, Quantifying the Importance of Non-additive Competition in Diverse Plant Communities here.



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