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Courtney Collins -- M.S. student

My current research examines the trend of liana increase within the neo-tropics from a plant functional trait perspective. The project focuses specifically on root functional traits of lianas and trees, including root chemical composition, root architecture and morphology, and root symbionts including nitrogen fixing bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi. By comparing the root functional traits of lianas and trees within the same phylogenetic family,I hope to better understand how liana roots may differ from those of trees. Further, these comparisons will give insight into the growth strategies that lianas may use to increase their relative basal area within the forest community, as studies have shown.  This research has important applications in understanding how plant communities will shift in tropical forests in the future and the implications this may have for broader conservation topics such as climate change and wildlife habitat.