Jennifer Franklin, Ph. D.
Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries
Phone: (865) 974-2724
lab website: http://fwf.ag.utk.edu/physlab/index.html
The growth and health of the above-ground portion of a tree is greatly dependent upon the health and function of the root system. Research in the Tree Physiology lab investigates how the soil environment impacts the establishment and growth of native trees. Because trees are such long-lived organisms, individuals must continuously alter their structure and function to acclimate to changing environmental conditions. Changes in soil pH, nutrient content, and temperature alter root growth and function, and their interaction with other below-ground ecological processes. We are interested in how tree root systems recover function after perturbation, and how trees exist outside of the soil chemistry range to which they are adapted. The establishment and function of the root system is particularly important under extreme conditions that exist in the early stages of reforestation, or at high elevations. Root systems compete for water and nutrient through a variety of mechanisms, and we are investigating how roots of different species compete for these resources. We are also studying how the soil environment and root disturbance influences the movement of water through the lower portion of the stem.