With the heroic efforts of Caroline, Erin S., our fantastic undergraduate team (Johannah, Liz, and Songhee), and honorary lab member Joe Sertich, we counted and weighed seeds, glued stuff to other stuff, and dug holes with pitchforks to get our big field experiment deployed in Jasper Ridge! Special thanks to the Jasper Ridge staff for installing our silt fence.
The experiment will measure the demographic rates (survival, germination, reproduction, competition) of five California grassland plant species and how they respond to fungal infection. The plants, two native perennial grasses and three exotic annual grasses, share a lot of foliar fungal pathogens. We will manipulate fungal pathogen abundance using field inoculations and fungicide. Over the course of the year, we will be tracking pathogen abundance and community composition as well as plant demography. With this information, we will parameterize population growth models to ask how pathogens influence plant population growth and the outcome of competition. We'll test the model predictions using other plants that naturally vary in plant composition, where we'll experimentally manipulate pathogens.
Stay posted to see our progress!