Leila Fletcher, UndergraduateBiology Department
Host Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Host Lab: Schmitt Lab
I propose to quantify leaf characteristics for a wide range of Ceanothus species (at least 10 species, for three individuals of each species grown in a common garden at Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden). In particular, I will investigate traits important to the response to drought, including xylem and mesophyll anatomy, and hydraulic, stomatal and photosynthetic responses to leaf dehydration. This theme is especially relevant in Southern California now, which is experiencing a record drought. My research will enable elucidation of how the leaves of native plants have evolved to tolerate harsh conditions. My work would integrate different fields of biology by studying the morphology of a native species evolved in response to changes in its habitat. I will analyze my data using phylogenetic methods to test the tempo and patterns of trait evolution in this lineage.