Dr. Lara Souza
Dr. Lara Souza

Lara Souza

Assistant Professor, Plant Ecology, Global Change Biology

I am a plant ecologist who is broadly interested in the role of global change in shaping the structure and function of communities and ecosystems. My research utilizes large-scale field manipulations and observations, greenhouse studies, and growth chamber experiments to test how climatic change and species invasion shape forest and old-field plant communities and their functions. My work utilizes tools from molecular, physiological, community and ecosystem ecology to address the research topics outlined below.

Causes and consequences of plant invasions on plant communities across spatial scales

A major focus of my research program investigates what factors determine the susceptibility of communities to biological invasions and in turn how biological invasions shape the structure and function of communities and ecosystems. While much research in invasion ecology has focused at local interactions between native and exotic species, we understand less about how such interactions vary across spatial scales. To date my work has used a combination of observational studies and experimental manipulations to address what community and ecosystem traits shape invasions and how invasions shape community and ecosystem structure and functions.
Studying biological invasions
Studying biological invasions

Causes and consequences of climatic change on plant communities across temporal scales

Determining the role of single or multiple climatic factors shaping plant communities is crucial to understanding future trajectories of ecosystems in terms of shifts in structure and function across time. My work has used experimental manipulations to address how elevated CO2, temperature and altered precipitation regimes influence the structure (plant community diversity and composition) and function (net primary productivity) of ecosystems.


Intra-specific diversity shape community and ecosystem response to global changes

Biological diversity across as well as within species can shape communities and ecosystem structure and function in the context of environmental change. I have used a combination of growth chamber and common garden experiments to address how within species variation and within species diversity of a dominant old-field species shapes ecosystem carbon dynamics. My work has addressed how intra-specific diversity shapes the course of biological invasions, but also how resource availability and climatic warming influence intra-specific diversity effects on shape the structure and function of old-field communities.

Studying interspecific diversity
Studying interspecific diversity

Selected Publications:

For more information about this program, contact the Department or Dr. Lara Souza.

Other related web pages:

Plant invasions
Plant invasion in the field