With the help of the RCN travel grant, I spent two months at the Centre d’Ecologie Fopntionnelle et Evolutive, part of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Montpellier in southern France. With a great deal of help from members of the CEFE and the Universite Montpellier, I was able to initiate a five-month field experiment which will greatly contribute to my research into the evolution of invasiveness in weeds. During these two months, I worked most extensively with Dr. Hélène Fréville (CEFE, CNRS). I also worked with Dr. Céline Devaux (CEFE, CNRS), and Drs. Agnes Mignot and Isabelle Olivieri (ISEM, Universite Montpellier). This group has extensive experience in dealing with the genus Centaurea from evolutionary and demographic perspectives, including expertise in common garden experiments. I left France after two months, and the experiment continued for a further three months, under the careful supervision of my collaborators. I will present preliminary results of this work at the upcoming ESA conference in August.
For my dissertation research, I am investigating phenotypic and genetic changes that distinguish successful invaders from con-specifics from their native range in the invasive weed, Centaurea diffusa. I examine phenotypic differences between populations from the native and invaded ranges, using common garden experiments to test for resource allocation trade-offs by comparing growth rate and fecundity in the presence or absence of experimentally applied stresses. Because it is insufficient to assess differences in phenotype from performance in a greenhouse located in the invaded range alone, I conducted a field common garden to look at early life history differences between native and invasive C. diffusa grown in France (which is in C. diffusa‘s naturalized range), to be compared with the greenhouse experiments I have previously conducted in Vancouver, British Columbia.
To learn more about my research, check out my webpage.