Evolution of life history traits in fire-prone environments
During my PhD, I focused on resource allocation between growth and survival, production and dispersal of progeny and maintenance of those progeny through strategies resembling maternal care in plants. With a special focus on evolution of plant regenerative strategies in fire prone environments, I studied the relationship between climatic and fire regime niches and plant strategies. Modeling optimal resource allocation allowed me to predict that both resource availability and fire regimes affected the plant resource allocation to a seed bank maintained directly in the plant canopy. I further reconstructed the phylogeny of the genus Leucadendron which includes a broad diversity of life history traits (e.g. fire regenerative strategies, seed dispersal, pollen dispersal) in order to test the prediction of my models. Comparative analyses along the Leucadendron phylogeny highlighted that life history traits evolved jointly in the history of the genus. Further analyses modeling the evolution of climatic and fire regime niches along the Leucadendron phylogeny showed that ecological niches did not evolved independently from plant regenerative strategies.