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EESS Winter Seminar Series - Sally Thompson, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 12:15
Location: 
Y2E2 111 -- Light Refreshments at 12:00
Event Sponsor: 
Department of Environmental Earth System Science

EESS Winter Seminar Series - Sally Thompson, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, "Hydraulic Determinism - Did Fluid Mechanics Constrain the Evolution of Plants and their Ecosystems?" Abstract: The interaction between plant hydraulics and plant structure was documented by Leonardo da Vinci, and its importance as a regulator of vegetation and ecosystem function remains of vital contemporary interest. It is proposed that hydraulics deterministically influence plant structure and function. This talk will explore some aspects of the role of hydraulics in plant function, with a focus on the regulation of plant stomata and xylem water potentials, the morphology of branching networks in vines and trees, and the spatial organization of vegetation at landscape scales. I will also touch on some of the outstanding challenges in understanding the relationship between hydraulics and plant function, including mechanistic and boundary condition descriptions of specific processes, the need to accommodate multiple spatial and temporal scales that do not lend themselves to simple statistical treatments and the self-referential nature of Darwinian evolution itself.