Nature tends to organize itself in a hierarchy of different scales, and scientists often find success focusing on just one level. Studying the behavior of a galaxy, for example, doesn’t necessarily require understanding its constituent stars, let alone the atoms and molecules that comprise them.
But someone has to connect these scales, which is precisely the aim of Leander Anderegg, an assistant professor in UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology. Anderegg studies how the traits and ecology within a single species of plant can influence the greater landscape — sometimes even beyond where that species is found. He’s particularly interested in how plants respond to climate change, and how those responses in turn influence ecosystem functions.