I use three dimensional plant modelling techniques that combine plant function and structure to adress questions on ecological scales in multiple fields of study. These functional structural plant (FSP) models allow me to test hypotheses that are not possible to test experimentally.
I am currently working in a climate smart forestry project, where we are looking to quantify the impact of management controlled forest density on the resillience of forests to drought. I will be building a model that integrates individual tree form and function, both above- and belowground, to scale to forest level impacts of climate change and management interventions.
At the ETH Zürich, I have developed an evolutionary FSP model designed to simulate local adapatation. The model was parameterised and validated on Dianthus carthusianorum, an alpine plant that occurs along elevational gradients, with local populations having adapted to their local environmental conditions. The model was able to recreate the elevational ecotypes of D. carthusianorum, and disentangle the role of individual (a)biotic factors to local adaptation.
During my PhD, I used an FSP model of Brassica nigra to study why plants down-regulate defences when competing for light. This is a complex and dynamic problem that requires considering the effect of light competition between plants, the effect of insect herbivores on plant phenotype and how these effects feed back to the plant and insect communities.
A plants root system architecture is nutoriously difficult to study as it is hidden underground. FSP models provide an alternative way of studying this hidden part of plants in an ecological perspective. My model combines architectural variation between species and placticity within species to changing environmental conditions such as the availability of water and nitrogen and competition with neighbouring plants.