Dr Lisa Patrick Bentley


Research Groups

Dr Lisa Patrick Bentley

Post Doctoral Researcher and Wolfson College Research Fellow


My research is focused on using diverse approaches to answer novel plant physiological questions related to environmental controls on carbon and water fluxes and the evolution of plant form and function. My main interest is to develop a mechanistic understanding of the relationship between forest community assembly and ecosystem function through new functional trait scaling frameworks. To do this end, I use Bayesian and bioinformatics approaches to synthesize diverse anatomical, architectural, and physiological plant data within the context of semi-mechanistic ecological models. My scientific approach addresses an increasing need for models that improve terrestrial scaling relationships and contribute to improved predictive power for estimating the regional and global carbon and water budgets of woody plants and ecosystems dominated by woody plants.

Before arriving at Oxford, I was a National Science Foundation (NSF) Bioinformatics Postdoctoral Fellow, co-sponsored by Dr. Brian Enquist (University of Arizona) and Dr. Kiona Ogle (Arizona State University). My fellowship work focused on combining metabolic scaling theory with plant physiological processes to produce a more robust framework for understanding and predicting whole-plant and ecosystem dynamics in light of global change. I received my Ph.D. from Texas Tech University, focusing on the effects of altered precipitation on North American desert plant ecophysiology.

Current Projects

I am a post-doc researcher for the GEM-TRAIT project in the Ecosystems Lab. Currently, my main focus is to build upon extensive data on the carbon cycle in forests along the Andes to Amazon transect in Peru by collecting primary data on tree functional diversity. Specifically, via collaborations with the University of Oxford, the Carnegie Institute of Science and the University of Arizona, I have been helping to: (i) develop a fundamental understanding of the relationship between leaf and wood traits and the carbon and nutrient cycling properties of whole trees, and of stands of trees; (ii) utilize this understanding to develop and evaluate a theoretical framework linking traits to ecosystem function; and (iii) use these trait-ecosystem links to develop new tools to map ecosystem connections through a traits framework applied to a tropical elevation gradient. In addition to my work in Peru, I have been assisting with the application of the GEM-TRAIT protocol across other GEM plots. These ambitious field campaigns will result in the first global dataset linking tropical tree diversity to ecosystem function.