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 or with traditional crop models.
Using fsp models I try to understand 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.