Research

Delicate Arch

I am interested in how cross-trophic species interactions drive competition and coexistence in plant communities. I am particularly fascinated by the interactions between plants and their microbial associates, and how these interactions can help answer fundamental questions such as: How do species form a community? What maintains coexistence and diversity? What determines species commonness and rarity?

I am currently investigating the importance of plant-soil feedbacks compared to other niche mechanisms in maintaining coexistence in a sagebrush steppe ecosystem (more here). My dissertation research focusedĀ on how plant-soil microbial feedbacks drive long term coexistence dynamics between two desert grass species (more here). These interests have also branched out into other collaborative projects (more here). For example, I am investigating fungal community function using selective baiting, culturing, and sequencing. I am also part of a field experiment that tests the effects of biological soil crust disturbance on plant and arthropod communities. In the past, I have completed a project investigating the effects of vertically-transmitted fungal symbionts on rare and common grass host demography, and conducted several field studies of invasive plant effects on plant-pollinator interactions (more here).