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Jennifer Lau PDF Print E-mail
Assistant Professor of Plant Biology lau

Ph.D. University of Calilfornia, Davis 2005

W. K. Kellogg Biological Station and Department of Plant Biology
Michigan State University
Hickory Corners, MI 49060
Phone: 269-671-2107
Email: jenlau@msu.edu



Research Interests

My research bridges community ecology and evolutionary biology to explore how plants interact with both the biotic and abiotic environment and how they respond simultaneously to multiple selective pressures. Much of my work uses environmental perturbations, such as biological invasions and climate change, as tools to study how abiotic and biotic selective agents affect the population biology of native species, species interactions, and the evolution of plant populations. I am particularly interested in studying indirect effects that occur when changes in the biotic or abiotic environment alter interactions between community members.

Recent and current projects:

  1. Effects of global change on plant evolution: In collaboration with Peter Tiffin, Ruth Shaw, and Peter Reich (UMN), I am studying how elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations alter the evolution of plant populations. Using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, we are investigating how elevated CO2 both directly and indirectly (by altering interactions with competitors and herbivores) impacts patterns of natural selection and genetic variation.
  2. Native responses to novel community members: Biological invasions provide particularly tractable systems for exploring both the ecological and evolutionary aspects of community assembly and species interactions. I have been investigating how novel biotic selective pressures (i.e., the exotic plant competitor Medicago polymorpha and the exotic insect herbivore Hypera brunneipennis) interact to affect the ecology and evolution of the native plant Lotus wrangelianus. This work documents experimentally how shifts in community composition due to multiple biological invasions affect the fitness and evolution of a native species.
  3. Biotic and abiotic factors interact to limit plant distributions: In collaboration with Kendi Davies (University of Colorado), Andrew McCall (Denison University), John McKay (Colorado State University), and Jessica Wright (U.S. Forest Service), I have been studying how abiotic soil characters interact with biotic agents to influence the population persistence and distribution of a native annual plant. We find that a majority of abiotic factors associated with the niche of Collinsia sparsiflora affect population persistence indirectly, by altering interactions with herbivores.

J. A. Lau, R. E. Miller, and M. D. Rausher. (In press). Selection through male function favors smaller floral display size in the common morning glory, Ipomoea purpurea (Convolvulaceae). American Naturalist.

J. A. Lau. 2008. Beyond the ecological: biological invasions alter natural selection in native plant communities. Ecology 89:1023-1031. pdf

J. A. Lau, A. C. McCall, K. F. Davies, J. K. McKay, and J. W. Wright. 2008. Herbivores and edaphic factors constrain the realized niche of a native plant. Ecology 89:754-762. pdf

J. A. Lau, J. Strengbom, L. Stone, P. Reich, and P. Tiffin. 2008. Direct and indirect effects of CO2, nitrogen, and community diversity on plant-enemy interactions. Ecology 89:226-236. pdf

S. Y. Strauss, J. A. Lau, T. W. Schoener, and P. Tiffin. 2008. Evolution in ecological field experiments: implications for effect size. Ecology Letters 11:199-207. pdf

J. A. Lau, K. P. Puliafico, J. A. Kopshever, H. Steltzer, E. P. Jarvis, M. Schwarzländer, S.Y. Strauss, and R. A. Hufbauer. 2008. Effects of activated carbon on plant growth complicate the inference of allelopathic effects. New Phytologist 178:412-423. pdf

B. Qin, J. A. Lau, J. Kopshever, R. M. Callaway, H. McGray, L. G. Perry, T. L. Weir, M.W. Paschke, J. L. Hierro, J. Yoder, J. M. Vivanco, and S. Y. Strauss. 2007. No evidence for root-mediated allelopathy in Centaurea solstitialis, a species in a commonly allelopathic genus. Biological Invasions 9:897-907. pdf

J. A. Lau, R. G. Shaw, P. B. Reich, F. H. Shaw, and P. Tiffin. 2007. Strong ecological but weak evolutionary effects of elevated CO2 on a recombinant inbred population of Arabidopsis thaliana. New Phytologist 175:351-362. pdf

A. A. Agrawal, J. A. Lau, and P. A. Hambäck. 2006. Plant community heterogeneity and the evolution of plant-herbivore interactions. Quarterly Review of Biology 81:349-376. pdf

J. W. Wright, K. F. Davies, J. A. Lau, A. C. McCall, and J. K. McKay. 2006. Experimental verification of ecological niche modeling in a heterogeneous environment. Ecology 87:2433-2439. pdf

J. A. Lau. 2006. Evolutionary responses of native plants to novel community members. Evolution 60:56-63. pdf

S. Y. Strauss, J. A. Lau, and S. P. Carroll. 2006. Evolutionary responses of natives to introduced species: What do introductions tell us about natural communities? Ecology Letters 9:357-374. pdf

J. A. Lau and S. Y. Strauss. 2005. Insect herbivores drive important indirect effects of exotic plants on native communities. Ecology 86:2990-2997. pdf

J. A. Lau and L. F. Galloway. 2004. Effects of low-efficiency pollinators on plant fitness and floral trait evolution in Campanula americana (Campanulaceae). Oecologia 141:577-583. pdf

S. Y. Strauss, J. A. Rudgers, J. A. Lau, and R. E. Irwin. 2002. Direct and ecological costs of resistance to herbivory. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 17:278-284. pdf

Last Updated on Friday, 01 October 2010 19:09