Influences of Plant - Abiotic Environment Interactions on Population Dynamics

EPA Grant Number: F6F11274
Title: Influences of Plant - Abiotic Environment Interactions on Population Dynamics
Investigators: Yang, Sylvia
Institution: University of Washington
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: September 1, 2006 through September 1, 2008
Project Amount: $111,124
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Terrestrial Systems Ecology


The objective of this research project is to investigate how plants of different spatial distributions modify their abiotic environment and how these modifications feed back to population dynamics.


Water flux, wind profile, light transmittance, and temperature data were collected from six densities of a small, passively-dispersed, herbaceous plant to explore how the plant modifies its abiotic environment. The interactions among the abiotic characteristics themselves will be examined by fitting measurements to existing microclimate model equations. To assess how these modifications may affect plant fitness, the average seed output from each plant will be measured. These correlations will be further investigated by subjecting plants of different densities to different abiotic environments, controlling for humidity, wind, light, and temperature. The effect of different environmental conditions on plant fitness will be quantified as differential survival and seed output. Furthermore, the effects of controlled laboratory conditions on dispersion will be used to determine how such density-dependent microclimate modifications affect the spatial spread of plant populations. The effect of feedback between plant-environment and environment-plant interactions on population dynamics will be explored using a combination of computational models, parameterized with empirical data, physical models, and field tests.

Expected Results:

By integrating empirical and theoretical methods, the investigator hopes to provide important information about how disturbances to climate and vegetation affect patterns of population maintenance and spread.

Supplemental Keywords:

ecology, spatial processes, population dynamics, invasion, colonization, microclimate, climate change, air quality, abiotic factors, niche construction, environmental engineers, disturbance,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Habitat, Environmental Monitoring, Atmosphere, habitat dynamics, microclimate model, herbaceous plants, plant environment interaction, abiotic environment

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007
  • Final