ABOUT THE PLANT-ANIMAL INTERACTIONS
(PLAI) WORKING GROUP
Interactions between plants and animals
are universal, of fundamental economic and ecological importance.
Plant-Animal Interactions Working Group at the University of Alberta was
established to facilitate, co-ordinate and develop teaching and research,
across the University, in the multidisciplinary area of plant-animal interactions.
PLAI's aim is to promote collaborative research and teaching in the area
of plant-animal interactions, by facilitating discussion and interaction
among plant molecular biologists, geneticists, plant and animal ecologists,
entomologists and pest managers. Rapid technical advances are providing
new research opportunities at many scales, from field to greenhouse to
This group is centered around active collaborative
projects among the members, combining the strengths of new appointments
with those of existing academic staff (5 of 11 hired in the last 5 years).
Unifying these researchers is an emphasis on experimental studies designed
to understand the basic biology of plant-animal interactions. Their
expertise and interests are focused on integrating processes at all levels,
ranging from gene expression to population and community ecology, landscape
ecology, and ecosystem carbon and nitrogen cycling. The research
includes basic and applied science, with most members conducting studies
at several places along this continuum.
This breadth in research goals is reflected
in the great diversity of experimental systems used by members of this
working group. Research is currently conducted in Grasslands, sub-arctic
Alpine, Boreal Forest, Aspen Parkland, Semi-Arid Environments, Australian
woodlands, Urban-Rural Gradients, Agricultural, Rangeland, and Forestry
Systems, the University of Alberta Biotron, and with computer modeling.
This group is further strengthened by collaborations
with other plant-animal researchers on campus, and in governmental agencies
located in Edmonton (ARC, CWS, CFS, Alberta Agriculture).
Specific area of research within the group
include the following five areas.