- Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
I have a wide interest in natural history, a passion to understand my own backyard, and a fascination with problems that can be expressed in a geometrical form. I enjoy teaching too much for my own good. So my publications lag several years behind my research.
For almost thirty years I have studied the adaptive geometry of trees at several scales of inquiry from the structure of twigs to the dynamics of the landscape. Now I am trying to translate the results at one scale into the axioms at another. The developmental pattern encapsulated in a single bud unfolds and multiplies to become a tree. The distribution of leaves within this tree determines its rate of growth in sunlight versus shade, and in moist areas versus dry. The growth rate determines a species' competitive ability relative to other species in a given environment. Relative competitive abilities can be summarized in a table of who grows in association with whom, and this table can be used to predict the future trajectory of forest composition. All of these levels of analysis and interpretation can be incorporated into calculations of productivity, and they have strong implications for regional differences in the parameters that relate carbon cycling to climate.