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Plants rely on light not just for photosynthesis but also for information. Many plants have a sophisticated suite of photoreceptors and responses that allow them to sense and respond to competition for light from their neighbors. Known as the shade avoidance response, the response to neighbor shade can include increased stem elongation, altered branching, and early flowering. Plants undergoing shade avoidance prioritize growth over defense and reduce allocation to fruit and seed, reducing agronomic yield.
The historical environments in which species evolved have lasting influence on the communities and ecosystems that provide services to humanity today. Dr. Cavender-Bares considers the unfolding of evolutionary history in the deep past, the role of diversification in community assembly, and its consequences for ecosystem function. Current threats to naturally assembled systems are transforming the biosphere to novel conditions, with consequences for the trade-offs we face in managing Planet Earth.
In connection with our development of Viburnum (Adoxaceae) as a model lineage for studies of plant evolution and ecology, we have inferred a comprehensive dated phylogeny based on multiple lines of evidence. Jointly with our phylogenetic inference, we have estimated past geographic movements and shifts between mesic forest biomes. This provides us with reliable estimates for movements within and between continents throughout the Cenozoic, as well as for multiple instances of adaptation to colder climates. Much of the action took place in Asia, with