Alpine Plant Community Assembly

The alpine is extreme. Sub-zero winter temperatures, snow cover for 10 months of the year, and intense ultraviolet radiation in the summer mean that residents of alpine habitats at the top of mountain summits need to be well-adapted to harsh conditions year-round. While we might expect biodiversity to be fairly low in these extreme environments, we see plenty of biodiversity. Alpine plant communities can be species rich, with some communities (mountaintops) harboring over 100 species of plant alone. The question, then, is why? Why do we see so much plant diversity on these mountaintops, and how did these species get there?

To get at this question, I am interested in using a few different approaches:

  1. Community phylogenetics
  2. Population genetics
  3. Systematics and comparative phylogenetics

It is unlikely that we will be able to disentangle all of the different processes that contribute to the assembly of alpine plant communities, but I hope the studies in this project will help us begin to understand which processes might be driving assembly of major plant groups in North American alpine habitats.


View my Botany 2022 Poster Supplement here.