Plants in a changing environment research

Plants don’t make a lot of noise; we often take them for granted. But plants fulfill a myriad of tasks, from influencing our climate to stabilising our soils. Human action has fundamentally changed the conditions under which plants grow. At AUT, we research various aspects of plant responses to their changing environment, from the leaf to the global level.

Current research includes studying the water relations of a living stump. Findings show that many tree species form root connections, which may give them advantages during droughts. Research on root grafting is in its infancy, and many questions remain to be investigated.

Dead or alive? The ‘zombie tree’, a kauri stump in the Waitakeres, kept alive by surrounding individuals who can still photosynthesise.
Students, with the help of locals, assess litter fall at the slopes of the Kolombangara volcano in the Solomon Islands.
Measuring sap flow in a living tree stump. The signals are tiny but can be amplified using statistical methods.

Researchers involved