My research interests center on a “paradox” at the core of ecosystem ecology: the ecosystem processes that we study typically occur at spatial and temporal scales far larger than the organisms that generate them. This sets up a tension between the local modifications of environment by organisms, and the broader processes they scale up to, mediated by ecological community structure.
As such my research lands at an intersection between ecophysiology, community ecology and ecosystem ecology, with forays into ecological theory. In particular I am interested in the consequences and causes of structural complexity in land plants. One of the great impacts of structural complexity is that it facilitates the formation of local environments that can differ climatically and chemically from their surroundings: multicellular structures allow at least some cells or organs within an organism to be better protected and/or better provisioned with resources.
These micro-conditions are at the heart of many of the connections between form and physiology that underpin the “functional” traits of interest in community and ecosystem ecology. When these effects are strongly internalized (such as inside a leaf) the consequences at the ecosystem level may be small or indirect, but when the impact is more external (such as in mosses, or the canopy microclimate of a tree) we can expect to see impacts on ecosystem processes.
My current research can be approximated as two main foci: (A) the influence of plants and other photosynthetic organisms (lichens, cyanobacteria) on their environment from stand to ecosystem scales and (B) the functional ecology of lichens and bryophytes, especially those morphological and physiological traits which translate into larger scale impacts.
- Deane-Coe, K.K. and D Stanton. 2017. Functional ecology of cryptogams: Scaling from bryophyte, lichen, and soil crust traits to ecosystem processes. New Phytologist 213(3)
- Stanton DE and C Reeb. 2016. Morphogeometric approaches to non-vascular plants. Frontiers in Plant Science 7 doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00916.
- Stanton DE. 2015. Small scale fog-gradients change epiphytic lichen shape and distribution. 2The Bryologist 118: 241-244.
- Rolland V, Bergstrom DM, Lenne T, Bryant G, Chen H, Wolfe J, Holbrook NM, Stanton DE and MC Ball. 2015. Easy come, easy go: capillary forces enable rapid refilling of embolized primary xylem vessels. Plant Physiology 168: 1636-1647.
- Nguyen HT, Stanton DE, Schmitz N, Farquhar GD and MC Ball. 2015. Growth responses of the mangrove, Avicennia marina, to salinity: development and function of shoot hydraulic systems require saline conditions. Annals of Botany mc357.
- Stanton DE, J Huallpa, L. Villegas, F. Villasante, JA Armesto, LO Hedin and HS Horn. 2014. Epiphytes Improve Host Plant Water Use by Microenvironment Modification. Functional Ecology. 28: 1274-1283 Editor’s choice in Science (344: p1129)
- Stanton DE, JA Armesto and LO Hedin. 2014. Ecosystem properties self-organize in response to a directional fog-vegetation interaction. Ecology 95(5) 1203-1212.
- Stanton DE, Merlin M, Bryant G., and M. C. Ball. 2014. Water redistribution determines photosynthetic responses to warming and drying in two polar mosses. Functional Plant Biology. 41: 178-186.
- Stanton DE, B. Salgado, LO Hedin, and JA Armesto. 2013. Forest patch symmetry depends on direction of resource delivery. Ecosphere. 4:art65.
- Stanton DE and HS Horn. 2013. Epiphytes as ”filter-drinkers”: life form changes across a fog gradient. The Bryologist. 116(1) 34-42. http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1639/0007-2745-116.1.034
- Shaw AK and DE Stanton. 2012. Leaks in the pipeline: separating demographic inertia from ongoing gender differences in academia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279 (1743): 3736-3741. doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.0822.