Effects of environmental factors
on clonality of invasive plants
My research focuses primarily on understanding the effects of
environmental conditions on the spread of non-native plant species.
Plants are extremely flexible with their methods of reproduction.
Although everyone is familiar with flowers and seeds, plants often use
asexual methods of reproduction as well. These alternate methods require
allocation of resources to different parts of the plant, and greater
understanding of this process is vital to predicting and controlling the
spread of non-native species.
As a small scale parallel to my
fieldwork, I have utilized the greenhouse to experimentally manipulate
growing conditions. I worked with Trifolium repens (white
clover), rapidly growing and extremely hardy plant, easily propagated
through cuttings. It produces its distinctive white flowers, but also
produces horizontal stems capable of asexual reproduction. By
manipulating resource distributions I have been able to alter the ratio
of resource allocation between sexual and asexual organs. This is
evidence that, under controlled conditions, plants are capable of
altering their reproductive strategies in response to local conditions.