Hot Student Papers

Relationship between leaf optical properties, chlorophyll fluorescence and pigment changes in senescing Acer saccharum leaves

31 Oct 2016 - 10:04am
Laura Junker

As we are enjoying the reds, oranges, yellows and browns of fall, Ph.D. student Laura Junker (Ensminger Lab) is studying the science behind fall colours. Her first-first authored paper “Relationship between leaf optical properties, chlorophyll fluorescence and pigment changes in senescing Acer saccharum leaves” was recently published in Tree Physiology. This manuscript investigates the relationship between photosynthetic pigments and optical properties of senescing sugar maple leaves. Although bright colors of senescing leaves are a well-known phenomenon, little is known about their ecophysiological function and their influence on remotely sensed vegetation indices.

Latitudinal gradients in induced and constitutive resistance against herbivores

4 Oct 2016 - 8:17am
caterpillar drawing

Plants have more “personality” in Canada than the United States. When plants are attacked by herbivores, they can defend themselves using either their constitutive baseline levels of defence or they can upregulate their defence (induced defence) in response to cues that will help them prevent further damage. These induced defences are a form of phenotypic plasticity, or a plants behavior or “personality” in response to enemies. But how does this vary along environmental gradients, such as the latitudinal differences like those found from Canada to the USA?

A landscape ecologist’s agenda for landscape genetics

26 Sep 2016 - 9:38am
node based approach for measuring genetic response per focal patch/population

Our students tackle some of the most challenging landscapes in their pursuit of knowledge, including landscapes of the genetic kind. Recent Ph.D. graduate, Dr. Michelle Dileo (Wagner Lab), published “A landscape ecologist’s agenda for landscape genetics” in Current Landscape Ecology Reports. This paper presents a critical review of the landscape genetic literature of the last five years from a landscape ecological perspective. Landscape genetics, using molecular markers, is a useful tool for studying the effects of habitat fragmentation for species that are hard to track or have cryptic dispersal.

Sources of controversy surrounding latitudinal patterns in herbivory and defense

12 Sep 2016 - 7:46am
caterpillar drawing

Herbivores rule the world and are critical to the functioning of ecosystems. Yet tropical and temperate biologists can’t seem to agree if herbivory is greater in more tropical climates, or if there really isn’t much of an overall pattern. PhD candidates Daniel Anstett and Krystal Nunes (Kotanen Lab) make a foray into this debate in their paper “Sources of controversy surrounding latitudinal patterns in herbivory and defense”, recently published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

Ontogeny reveals function and evolution of the hadrosaurid dinosaur dental battery

29 Aug 2016 - 9:08am
hadrosaur teeth model

There is nothing duck-like in the maw of Duck-billed Dinosaurs (hadrosaurs), according to the research of UTM Biology’s newest Ph.D. – Dr. Aaron Leblanc (Reisz Lab). Aaron just published “Ontogeny reveals function and evolution of the hadrosaurid dinosaur dental battery” in BMC Evolutionary Biology.This is the first in-depth look inside the dental batteries of hadrosaurs. Like many plant-eating mammals that have very complex grinding teeth for dealing with tough plant material, hadrosaurs evolved an impressive battery of teeth on each side of the jaw. Each battery is made of multiple stacks of interlocked teeth that behaved like a single giant grinding surface, but could be made of over 300 individual teeth fused together with a flexible network of ligaments!

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