Much of the research of this lab has implications for the ecological understanding of plant competition mediated by roots. In fact, understanding competition is crucial for the design of agroecosystems with optimal functioning under limiting conditions, which is the prevalent state of the natural and human world. The lab has discovered root traits in a variety of species explaining variation in tolerance to stresses such as phosphorous, nitrogen, and water deficiencies. Other research has shown how these very same traits are important when considering a population of interacting individuals in the field. The same concepts are useful for describing inter-root interactions, those which take place within a single plant root mass. Ecological concepts such as competition and facilitation become increasingly important in understanding agroecosystems.