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K-State Today

February 2, 2023

Tom Miller to present Division of Biology Seminar

Submitted by Division of Biology

Tom Miller, associate professor of biosciences at Rice University, will present his research titled "Plant Population Responses to Environmental Change" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Feb 6, in 221 Ackert Hall.

All natural populations experience fluctuations in their environment through space and time. This has never been more true: increased climatic fluctuations and spatial heterogeneity are hallmarks of ongoing anthropogenic global change. This talk will explore how plant populations respond to spatial and temporal environmental variability. In the spatial dimension, environmental variation causes some locations to be more suitable for population viability than others. Over large spatial scales, the boundary between suitable and unsuitable habitats defines species range limits. 

Miller will present experimental work examining the drivers of range limitation in a grass species endemic to the southern Great Plains. In the temporal dimension, environmental variation can impose a penalty on fitness in stochastic environments through nonlinear averaging — bad times are more harmful than good times are helpful. Miller will present work exploring how interactions with microbial symbionts may buffer host populations against negative effects of fluctuations in the environment. Integrating over time and space, Miller will discuss challenges and opportunities for forecasting population responses to environmental change.

If you would like to visit with Miller, please contact Allison Louthan at amlouthan@k-state.edu