Maria is a Research Assistant at the Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics, employed in a cross-faculty project that combines machine learning, Bayesian inference and historical botanic garden data in the search for answers to the diversity of lifespans in plants.
Her work brings together the three CPop sections: biology, mathematics, and business & economics in the effort to transcribe and make digitally available handwritten individual-level plant species records from botanic garden living collections. Maria combines these demographic data with already digitally available database records to map survival trajectories and ageing rates in flowering plants. Her current focus is on the species-rich genus Rhododendron. She explores the role of the environment in plants' patterns of ageing, asking how the (wild) provenance environments shape species' senescence, life expectancy, and lifespan equality. These types of life-history traits are expected to be fixed longer-term. Therefore, looking at living collections and not wild demographic data provides a perfect research setting in that it excludes some of the confounding environmental stochasticity acting in wild populations. The ultimate goals of her work are to help build biodiversity data infrastructure, inform conservation management, and contribute to a more complete understanding of how the environment affects the diversity of life-history strategies in plants.