My lab is interested in understanding how global change factors influence the physiology, growth, and evolution of plants. We focus on changes that alter future plant resource availability, such as rising atmospheric CO2, changing precipitation regimes, and increasing temperature. We also investigate how plants responded to past environments, such as glacial conditions of 20,000 years ago when atmospheric CO2 was very low. We use a variety of techniques from fields such as stable isotope ecology, molecular biology, and quantitative genetics. Our major research themes include the following:
  • Evolution of plants in response to rising atmospheric [CO2]
  • Climate change effects on the phenology of trees 
  • Molecular mechanisms that alter flowering times 
at elevated [CO2]
  • Physiological ecology of glacial plants in response to low [CO2]
  • Future agricultural sustainability and global change 
  • Climate change effects on dioecious plants

        A 14,000 year-old glacial tree recovered from the
        La Brea tar pits. Samples from this specimen were 
        courtesy of Dr. John Harris (Page Museum).
   Joy and Laci Gerhart studying glacial tree rings.