Lindsay Turnbull

Plant Ecologist

Lindsay Turnbull

I am a PLANT ECOLOGIST and I’m mainly interested in how and why plant species are so different to each other. Why did these differences arise and what do they mean for our planet?

I am also interested in trees! Trees are truly awesome! Inside trees are long straws that carry water from the soil all the way up to the leaves. Now trees can be sixty metres tall: that’s a heck of a big straw! When you drink water through a straw, you have to suck in order to get the water to move.

So how do trees suck? Well, in the roots water is loaded into the bottom of the straws, and at the top of the straws the water oozes out into the leaves, making them soggy. When the sun shines on the leaves, the soggy leaves start to dry out. And, because water molecules like to stick together, more water is pulled up the straws.

This whole process is called transpiration, and it always makes me think of pants drying on a washing line! But transpiration is a dangerous process, because it’s very easy for air bubbles to get into the straws and break the stream of water. Once this happens, that straw is broken and a new one is needed. I need help! Can you make a pants tree?

I love being a scientist because...

I get paid to look at bugs!

The most awesome thing I have done so far is...

Visit Aldabra coral atoll in the Indian Ocean, where giant tortoises rule

My heroes are...

Charles Darwin

Advice I would give my 7 year old self...

Don’t give up!

At primary school my favourite thing to do was...

Look at bugs!

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