Plant biodiversity - ecosystem functioning field experiment

This project is ongoing.

Please reach out in Fall 2022 if you are interested to be a part of this project!


In a collaboration with the Wolf and Farrior labs of UT Austin EEB, we are working on the second run of a plant ecology field experiment at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory in Austin. The overall goal of this experiment is to determine the impact of phylogenetically structured biodiversity loss on ecosystem functioning across climate change scenarios, of abiotic (drought effects) and biotic stress (insect herbivore damage). Related to these main goals, there are multiple opportunities for undergraduate students interested in plant ecology to perform their capstone / thesis research. Example research questions for capstone projects include: 

  • How do plant seedling functional traits of species compare to adult traits in plant communities of different levels of diversity, abiotic and biotic stress? 
  • How is the insect herbivore community different in plant communities (in and out of insect herbivore exclusion treatments)? 
  • What is the "real" impact of the insect herbivores on plant communities of different plant diversity levels? 
  • How do pollination levels differ in plant communities of different plant diversity levels? 
  • How does the soil microbiota and symbiotic relationships influence the plant biodiversity - ecosystem functioning relationship (greenhouse and field study comparison)? 
  • How do root mutualisms (such as mycorrhizal fungi) change across diversity and abiotic treatments? 
  • How does nutrient availability and use differ between diversity plots? 

Students involved will gain valuable field and research experience as well as designing, implementing, and analyzing their very own project. Undergraduates interested in pursuing related research questions (but not limited to) are encouraged to contact us. Paid and course credit / capstone (thesis) positions are available.


Typical Time Commitment
Desired Length of Commitment
1 to multiple semesters


The Office of Undergraduate Research recommends that you attend an info session or advising before contacting faculty members or project contacts about research opportunities. We'll cover the steps to get involved, tips for contacting faculty, funding possibilities, and options for course credit. Once you have attended an Office of Undergraduate Research info session or spoken to an advisor, you can use the "Who to contact" details for this project to get in touch with the project leader and express your interest in getting involved.

Have you tried contacting professors and need more help? Schedule an appointment for additional support.