‘Why don't trees reach the heavens?’ is topic of Southeastern biology lecture

Thursday, March 17, 2016 Volker Stiller
by: Rene Abadie

     HAMMOND – Did you ever wonder why trees only reach certain heights? Or if they have nerve signals and can feel pain?
     Southeastern Louisiana University Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Volker Stiller will discuss these and other questions about plants at the next Southeastern Science on Tap presentation scheduled at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5, at Tope Lá Catering, 113 East Thomas St. in Hammond. Sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences, the lecture is free and open to all ages. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
     “Plants are quite complex, and many people are not aware of their capabilities. One feature that sets them apart from animals is that they are stuck in one spot and need to make do with the resources they have available,” said Stiller, who specializes in plant anatomy and the transport of water and nutrients in plants.
     Stiller said the title of his presentation, “Why Don’t Trees Reach the Heavens” is based on an old German proverb that “The good Lord will ensure that trees will not reach heaven.”
     “I’ll discuss the importance of various constraints that limit the height growth of trees, ranging from nutrient availability, old age, hydraulic constraints, and even divine intervention,” said Stiller. “We’ll look at the possibilities of plants nurturing their young and what happens when plants come under attack. When we mow our lawn, does it cry for help?”
     Stiller earned his undergraduate degree in forestry at the University of Göttingen and later received his doctorate in plant ecophysiology at the University of Bayreuth in southern Germany. He moved to the United States to work as a post-doctoral research at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and joined the Southeastern faculty in 2003.
     For information on future Science on Tap presentations, contact the Department of Biological Sciences at 985-549-3740.

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